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Building the evidence base for accelerated education

Tue, April 16, 10:00 to 11:30am, Hyatt Regency, Floor: Pacific Concourse (Level -1), Pacific O

Group Submission Type: Formal Panel Session


If the world is to realize SDG 4, it must accelerate progress. The UN Secretary General’s annual Sustainable Development Goals Report (2017) found that while progress has been made, the pace is “insufficient and advancements have been uneven.” Millions of children remain out of school, especially in countries affected by conflict and crisis and where educational systems are struggling with the implementation of universal education, growing populations and increasing displacement and migration. Accelerated Education (AE) could be a pivotal strategy in addressing the millions of children and youth who remain out of school, yet widespread variation exists in how AE programmes (AEPs) are planned, implemented and approached, with little or no overarching objectives, guidance, standards or indicators for what effective AE provision looks like, and critically, very little evidence as to how they impact learners and communities.

In response to this challenge the Accelerated Education Working Group (AEWG) has made significant investment and efforts in developing a conceptual framework for what constitutes good practice in AE. This conceptual framework aims to support the harmonisation of AEPs globally, ultimately leading to improvements in AEP quality and better outcomes for out of school children and youth who have missed out on significant amounts of education. Concurrent to this work, has been a focus on building the evidence base on what works and why within effective AEPs.

Several streams of work by the working group, and partners, has been undertaken towards this aim. In 2017, the AEWG developed a Learning Agenda for Accelerated Education. This agenda specifies key research questions to test various components of the conceptual framework and to help evaluate the value for money (VfM) of AEPs in chronically underfunded and/or fragile education systems with significant numbers of out of school children and youth. USAID, a key member of the AEWG, also supported completion of two separate reviews on AE. The first, exploring how accelerated learning is approached, found that the focus in AEPs is often on the acceleration of curriculum rather than engagement with accelerated learning theory; that withstanding, the review also noted that some of the key principles of accelerated learning theory—such as a learner-focussed pedagogy, flexible learning opportunities, attention to social emotional learning, increased time on task, and community engagement—were present in many AEPs. Another review, also commissioned by USAID, aimed to better understand the landscape of AE programming in conflict and crisis affected contexts through a systematic review of academic, grey literature and programme evaluations. The review found that the evidence base for AEP effectiveness is markedly thin. A fundamental challenge is that there is a very wide variety of what constitutes an AEP. This has made it difficult to carry out research and evaluations across multiple projects. It also means that there is significant variability in the intensity and quality of implementation of various components of AEPs. The review strongly recommended that standard programme guidance be developed, a task that has since been accomplished through the development of the conceptual framework and release of the AEWG tools and guidance. The review also noted that an evidence base using evaluation, research and tracer studies was also needed to help researchers, practitioners, and policy makers understand the effectiveness of AE. The AEWG is currently collaborating with the Peace Research Institute, Oslo (PRIO) and the Norwegian Refugee Council, with funds from the Education in Emergencies Dubai Cares initiative , on a large study on the impact of AEPs in Uganda which will use tracer studies to track AE students after they have completed their education.
As well as directly undertaking research in collaboration with others, the AEWG sees itself as having a key role in managing knowledge that is being generated from current and upcoming AEP evaluations and research and supporting increased learning and collaboration. This panel is part of this role in supporting increased learning and collaboration and knowledge management. It brings together five organisations working in East and West Africa who have conducted applied research on key aspects of AE including looking at the critical issues of language and literacy; children’s and youth perceptions of AE; utilising the AEWGs 10 Principles for Effective Practice to review and analyse a multi country programme and the bigger issues of sustainability, and overall impact of AEPs. Through this knowledge management and strengthened collaboration, the AEWG hope to ensure that the findings serve a formative purpose moving forward and the evidence generated by this research is applied to further development of the AEWG tools and guidance to ultimately provide an evidence base for AE as a pivotal strategy in addressing the millions of children and youth who remain out of school.

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