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Scaling up accelerating learning models for out of school children
According to UNESCO, over 97 million children in Africa are out of school, and 52 million are girls, and this number continues to grow with the rising demand for education. Still, these millions of children face an uncertain future as their economic and social prospects become daunting2. In addition, Africa is struggling to grow economically, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic that has led to profound economic impacts on the continent. World Bank Out-of-School Youth in Sub-Saharan Africa study highlighted gender disparities in education, disasters, migration, armed conflict, extreme poverty, child labour, teenage pregnancies, and early and forced child marriages as hindering Africa’s growth.
“The evidence generated in the Back2School project will be scaled up in the three target countries and the rest of Africa to ensure our meaningful and deliberate contribution to reducing the 52 million out-of-school girls in Africa. ” Melizsa Mugyenyi, CEO, Graça Machel Trust
The Graça Machel Trust has partnered with the African Child Policy Forum (ACPF), the Diocese of Musoma, and the Pan African Research Services (PARS) to conduct Back2School research, which has been funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). In addition, it supports the Global Partnership for Education Knowledge and Innovation Exchange to generate evidence supporting scaling up accelerated learning models for out of school children to facilitate the reintegration of out-of-school rural girls in Tanzania, Kenya and Ethiopia. These three countries have been identified among the many countries in Africa with disproportionately high levels of Out Of School Children, mainly rural girls, and it is in the interest of the Trust’s contribution towards reducing the 52 million Out-Of-School- Girls (OOSG) in Africa and towards the achievement of SDG #4, Aspiration #6 of Agenda 2040, and the AU Agenda 2063.
Overview of the Graça Machel Trust Back2School Research Scaling Project
To mark the first phase of the research project, 24th February 2022, the Trust held a virtual launch to reflect on the education status in Africa and called on partners to make concerted efforts into investing in accelerated learning programmes for out-of-school children to ensure no child is left behind. The event was graced by Her Excellency Professor Sarah Mbi Enow Anyang Agbor, Vice Board Chair for FAWE Africa and former African Union Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology who emphasised the plight of OOSC and its impact on Africa’s socio-economic development. In her remarks, Professor Agbor said, “The direct correlation between education and the development of Africa necessitates the urgency towards systems strengthening in education. Increased financing for equitable access to quality education, education opportunities for out of school children who cannot enrol in formal education systems; and increased investment in continuous teacher professional development programmes, especially in STEM subjects.”
“When we invest in education for all children, we are making a sustainable investment for the continent. Therefore, I call upon all key stakeholders to rally behind the Graça Machel Trust and its partners throughout the life cycle of this noble initiative” – Professor Sarah Mbi Enow Anyang Agbor.
The launch was focused on raising awareness of the Back2School Research Project and soliciting buy-in and support from partners. The event attracted subject experts from the Ministries of Education, Research Partners and civil society organisations from seven African countries, Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, South Africa and Uganda. Honourable Moushira Khattab, Special Rapporteur on Education for the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of Child, Dr Sam Ngaruiya, State Department of Early Learning and Basic Education Kenya, Dr Alemayehu Hailu, Ethiopia Country Director and Regional Strategic Advisor for The Luminos Fund engaged in a panel discussion which provided a unique perspective of how the research can be successful. The experts were joined by the research partners Reverend Bishop Michael Msonganzila of Diocese of Musoma Tanzania, Ms Susan Kahinga Chege, Research Director for the Pan Research Services (PARS) and Dena Lomofsky, Managing Member and Senior Consultant Southern Hemisphere.
On 31st March 2022, ACPF and Luminos Fund hosted a Stakeholder Consultation meeting to launch the project in Ethiopia. This provided a unique opportunity for stakeholders to meet at a national and sub-national level and was attended by the Ministry of Education and development partners who run accelerated learning programs attended. The panel spotlighted the status of out-of-school children and policy frameworks and strategies implemented in accelerated learning programmes in Ethiopia and shared some key progress areas, lessons and challenges that can be learnt for the future programme.
Inoue et al., Out-of-School Youth in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Policy Perspective, Washington: World Bank Group., 2015, p.1.
Sarah Mpata is the Communications Officer for the Graça Machel Trust