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A movement to equip children with foundational reading and mathematics skills gains momentum across

Members of the TaRL Africa Community who gathered in Gaborone from 5-7 September. Photo: Young 1ove

From 5-18 September, Young 1ove, in partnership with TaRL Africa, (a formal partnership between Pratham and J-PAL) hosted a series of TaRL events in Botswana. In Botswana, the Ministry of Education has committed to scaling-up TaRL, supported by Young 1ove and UNICEF. To date Young 1ove have reached 10% of primary schools with striking results: in the latest implementation, the percentage of students at grade-level mathematics jumped from just 12% to 76%. These results have fueled momentum to scale nationally.

Young 1ove’s Botswana base acts as a TaRL innovation hub – where interested actors can see TaRL in action, TaRL innovations can be tested and the TaRL community of practice can come together to share lessons.

This workshop marked our first official co-training as an innovation hub. There were three events: first, a 3-day Community of Practice workshop, which was an opportunity for existing implementers of TaRL programmes to share their experiences and brainstorm potential solutions to challenges. Second, a one-day learning journey when organisations could see TaRL in action. Third, an 8-day training for prospective TaRL implementers.

The 8 day training was opened by the Botswana Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministr​​y of Basic Education. Capturing the power of TaRL, he said:

“teaching at the right level inspires, energizes and re-engineers the teaching process.”

The training included a range of activities from production of phonic charts in local languages, reading comprehension activities such as making as many words as possible with a set of letters, direct practice in schools, reflections with school management, and social hikes.

We took particular advantage of the training since it was on our home turf. Our government partners sent representatives from headquarters and regional offices, as well as the basic education and in-service department and ten of our staff joined. The opportunity to have direct training in partnership with TaRL Africa is an opportunity we had to maximize.

A few takeaways emerged for us:

  • Each country is implementing TaRL ‘at their level.’ No one size fits all. Each country has adapted the program for their context. In Nigeria, the team is adapting new models to a context with over 100 students in a classroom; in Botswana, we have added daily problems of the day or ‘checkpoints’ to help youth instructors target instruction daily with a user-friendly tool.

  • The diverse delivery models being implemented within the TaRL Africa Community of Practice enables helpful cross country learning. Some TaRL efforts are leveraging teachers, others national youth service programmes, others NGO delivery, others government delivery, and some a fusion. This has enabled cross-sharing across models, a recipe for continual learning and success across the TaRL ecosystem.

  • There is broad-based demand for TaRL. The alarm has been sounded about the problem: a ‘learning crisis’ with students in school but many not learning; yet solutions are harder to come by. TaRL provides a tangible solution, backed by evidence and with a track record of scalability. The results are visible, galvanize energy, which in turn drive stronger results, yielding positive feedback loops. The demand for TaRL was expressed by nearly every country and partner.

  • The movement is growing. New and old partners joined the workshop, and the coalition of partners grows every day. That’s what makes it a movement, after all.

“If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together.”

With TaRL, we’re going far.

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