Children and youth frequently miss out on substantial amounts of schooling due to a variety of reasons including poverty, marginalization, conflict, and crisis. Currently, according to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, there are approximately 263 million children and youth out of school. With each missed school year, there is greater risk that they will be unable to return to formal education and greater risks to their protection as a result. Responding to the needs of these learners has increasingly led governments and agencies to provide more flexible forms of education such as "accelerated education".
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What is Accelerated Education?
Accelerated Education (AE) is flexible, age-appropriate programming that promotes access to education in an accelerated timeframe for disadvantaged groups. This includes over-age and out-of-school children and youth who have missed out or had their education interrupted due to poverty, marginalization, conflict, and crisis. The goal of Accelerated Education programs is to provide learners with equivalent certified competencies for basic education and learning approaches that match their level of cognitive maturity.
These condensed, accredited programs give older students the opportunity to cover the same ground as standard-age learners but at a much faster pace. The curriculum is condensed, so they can complete it in half the number of years normally required for that level, or less. They can also study additional material suitable for their age and where they live. By catching up in this way, learners can then integrate into mainstream education (in the right class for their age); transfer to the next educational level (normally secondary) or to skills-based technical and vocational education. Learn more with this brief on accelerated education.
In 2016, the Accelerated Education Working Group (AEWG) developed 10 Principles for Effective Practice for Accelerated Education. The 10 Principles aim to clarify the essential components of an effective accelerated education program. Each principle contains evidence-informed best practices that can be viewed as a series of key actions or indicators to support the design, implementation, and evaluation of Accelerated Education work.
The 10 principles are:
The AEWG hypothesis is that when all 10 principles are applied well, an Accelerated Education program will facilitate significant, consistent educational gains for children and young people.
Click to learn more about the 10 Key Principles of Accelerated Education.
The Accelerated Education Working Group (AEWG) is made up of education partners working to strengthen the quality of programming through developing guidance to promote a more harmonized approach to Accelerated Education. The AEWG is currently led by UNHCR with representation from UNICEF, UNESCO, USAID, NRC, Plan, IRC, Save the Children, Education and Conflict Crisis Network (ECCN), and War Child Holland. The AEWG comes together bi-annually to share experiences and expertise.
Globally, Accelerated Education programs are employed with more and more frequency to address the overwhelming numbers of out of school children and youth. However, while there is widespread agreement on the need for such programming among agencies and governments, there is insufficient validated documentation that provides guidance, standards and indicators for efficient program planning, implementation, and monitoring. In practice, Accelerated Education takes different forms in different countries, and even within countries. Moreover, there is little significant documentation on the impact of such programming, including how far we are contributing to learning achievement and how successful we are at facilitating pathways between accelerated programming and formal and non-formal education.
To address some of these specific challenges related to Accelerated Education, starting with the lack of guidance and standards, in 2014 UNHCR invited a small number of education partners working in the area to participate in the formation of a working group. Rooted in the need for more standardized approaches and recognizing the critical need for clarity around Accelerated Education as a basis for research, evaluation, and effective delivery, the AEWG has developed a clear definition of Accelerated Education and reviewed, distilled, and field tested a set of global good practices and guidelines for Accelerated Education programs.
AEWG Goal: To strengthen the quality of Accelerated Education programming through a more harmonized, standardized approach.
In 2016, the AEWG developed 10 Principles for Effective Practice for Accelerated Education and an accompanying Guide to Accelerated Education Principles (DRAFT for field testing).
The 10 Principles (elaborated above) are accompanied by a Guide that specifies key definitions, essential information, recommended actions based on good practice, indications of challenges, examples, case studies, and suggested reading.
Field testing of these two tools was conducted between mid-2016 and March 2017. The testing involved: (1) the development of a checklist, based on the 10 principles and associated sub-principles; (2) solicitation of feedback from global Accelerated Education experts; and (3) field visits to four Accelerated Education programs in Kenya, Afghanistan, and Sierra Leone, as well as a desk study conducted in Mali. The goal was to test the relevance, utility, and application of the Accelerated Education Principles and Guide within various contexts, with different target populations, and at various stages of the program cycle. Full results and recommendations from these field studies are available in the Synthesis Report, and summarized in an Executive Summary.
The field testing also resulted in a series of case studies from Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, and two programs in Dadaab refugee camp in North East Kenya that highlight how contextual differences are managed in assessing adherence to the principles and in ensuring effectiveness of AE programs generally. Click to read each of the case studies.
Based on the results and recommendations from the field testing, the AEWG is revising all of the guidance materials and will launch the final tools on 3 October 2017. The revised versions of these materials will be posted here after the launch.
With a succinct one-page Accelerated Education Definitions document, the AEWG has clarified the differences between several key terms, including: Accelerated Education, accelerated learning, catch-up programs, remedial programs, and bridging programs.
The AEWG has recently developed a Learning Agenda that aims to organize and generate evidence to inform strategic planning, project design, project implementation, monitoring and evaluation, and in-service training efforts for Accelerated Education. The Learning Agenda is comprised of a set of research questions in priority development areas for which the AEWG intends to organize and disseminate existing knowledge and data, generate new evidence, and produce conclusions and recommendations through academic research, program evaluations, and multi-method tests of the assumptions and principles that have been developed to guide Accelerated Education programming.
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