Making the Case for Accelerated Education

Wasted time in education has long been a disease that could so easily be ‘cured’ through an accelerated education approach.

Firstly, address the curriculum issue – reduce the content and ensure that all learners achieve basic competences.

Secondly, devise accelerated programmes for all learners and do away with age defined targets as these are not developmentally appropriate – use effective multigrade approaches (e.g. Escuela Nueva).

In Tanzania, learners in the School Readiness Programme , achieved more in 16 weeks across all domains, than other learners in  one year pre-primary  classes. This is  accelerated education that has achieved good results at a lower cost.

Making the Case for Accelerated Education
by Kayla Boisvert

Around the world, Accelerated Education programs are being employed with 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, AE takes different forms in different countries, and even within countries. First convened in late 2014, the AEWG is filling this gap through the development and dissemination of 10 Principles for Effective Practice, ongoing research on their application, and, most recently, the development of a Learning Agenda.

Read the full post here.

Story telling – a key to activity based learning

In our School Readiness Programme story telling is a key dimension in activity based learning within a competence based pre-primary curriculum.

With the Tanzania Institute of Education 12 stories were written, guided by the competences defined in the curriculum.

This is the guidance given to national facilitators:

Using stories and story telling in the School Readiness Programme.

“Storytelling is many things to many people,” Mr. Faq replied, “It is entertainment, a way of passing on a culture’s history, or a way of teaching to both the young and the old. It is something that must be experienced and tried before you can fully understand it, as its live intimacy has a unique power and magic which creates community. More than anything else, storytelling is an art. An art that anyone can participate in. We all are storytellers, whether we realize it or not.”

 What is storytelling?

Storytelling is one of our oldest art forms. It stimulates the imagination and builds a sense of community between tellers and listeners.

Stories are everywhere – in newspapers, books, on TV and the Internet. Every day conversation is full of anecdotes and real life stories. Storytelling helps us understand our environment and personal experience. 

Many older stories are originally traditional folktales. They represent the richness of oral patterns of telling and are the product of a community experience, as well as the art of individual storytellers. Historical stories, legends and contemporary stories can also be the subject of the storyteller’s tale, and they too embody a strong element of community or collective experience.

The emphasis of traditional storytelling is as much on the telling as the story itself. Stories are recreated by the teller at each telling and passed on through generations.

Why are stories used in education?

Research tells us that:

young children who are read to and told stories from a very young age have considerable advantages later on at school, not only in the development of literacy skills, but also in the development of social skills, such as being able to relate to others. Conversely, children who are not exposed to stories at an early age tend to do less well later, both in terms of literacy and in terms of integrating with others at school.

Stories exercise the imagination and are a useful tool in linking fantasy and the

imagination with the child’s real world.

  • Listening to stories in class is a shared social experience.
  • Children enjoy listening to stories over and over gain. This repetition allows

language items to be acquired and reinforced.

  • Listening to stories develops the child’s listening and concentration skills.
  • Stories create opportunities for developing continuity in children’s learning.


(Adapted from Ellis and Brewster 1991:1-2)

The story itself is the vehicle for developing skills and children can also make associations between language and context. The words in the story are supported by the pictures which provide the visual context to help children’s understanding of language.

Children can store new knowledge more easily and retrieve it when they find themselves in a similar context.

The different activities for each story may also act as a guide for the organization of individual/pair/small group work. Thus the story also structures learning opportunities.

Story telling:

“The story teller has to become the character of the story, so voices change, facial expression, gestures everything change and the story teller is actually living the story for the children and the intonation of voice and the expression attracts the children and they become very quiet and enjoying the story because story telling is for children to enjoy, some stories teach a moral, values and skills but the utmost point is that children will enjoy that story.”

Eleanor Carrillo- Early Childhood Educator



Before telling a story the teller should learn the story well – you don’t have to read every word, try to make it your ‘own’ story.

 Use of pictures

Pictures have a central role to play in the story-based curriculum and the learning to-learn process. They can be a stimulus for forming hypothesis, predicting, sequencing and exercising memory. Words are better associated with pictures. In addition, a story is more memorable if it can be related to a sequence of pictures.


They can help in practicing speaking and writings skills. The story can be reconstructed orally or on paper (e.g. new drawings arranged in a sequence) with the help of key-visuals from the story book.

Characters can be drawn and cut out – give out to some of the children who can be involved when each character is active in the story. After the story telling simple puppets can be made and groups can re-tell the story using the puppets.

Other activities that can go with story telling:
* Give each pair a picture that depicts the events of the story and have them line them up in order of the events.

* Children can make up different titles for the story.

* Repeat quotes from the story and ask the children “Who said it?”

Stop reading before turning the page and ask ‘ What will happen in the story on the next page?’
Stop reading and let the children predict what they think will happen at the end. Let children (in pairs) draw a picture showing how they think the story will end.

* Teach them a song that goes along with the theme of the story. Teach them actions to go along with the songs. Introduce new vocabulary into the same song once children know the song well.
 Role play
* Let children act out parts of the story using role play. Use masks to extend role play.




* Give the children three events in the story and ask them which came first.
 Draw and tell
* Let the children draw a picture about their favourite part of the story and then explain it to the class, perhaps even act it out with a friend.

Pictures in this article were taken during zonal and district training for facilitators and Community Teaching Assistants in the seven regions of the TIE/EQUIP-Tanzania programme.

The power of communities – SDG4

Sustainable Development Goal 4 states:

“Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”


Easy to state, but what does it mean and how can we achieve it?

In Tanzania, there are many ‘out of school’ children who are not able to access any type of education due to the location of their homes -many kilometres away from the nearest pre-school or primary school. And if they finally get there -they may not understand much, as the language of instruction is not the children’s home language or mother tongue.

In EQUIP-Tanzania, we have tried to consider the issue from a child’s point of view and have established 1000 school readiness centres with bilingual Community Teaching Assistants (CTAs) volunteering to support these children to access quality educational experiences.

The centres may be quite remote, but at the start of the School Readiness programme where we may expected 15 0r 20 children to join as many as 200 may turn up -anyone from 4 to 12 years of age! Such has been the demand (and official statistics often miss many of the out of school children) that we have suffered from ‘success problems’. The problems exist due to a lack of space and materials and lack of experience for the CTAs, who have done an amazing job in taking on such challenges.

Many headteachers would dearly love to employ CTAs who have such commitment,and some have done so or at least supported them as they work in standard 1 classrooms at the end of the SR classes.

Commitment of the CTAs is such that when asked if they would like to continue supporting their children after the end of the 12 week SR class -98% of the 1000 CTAs agreed to do so – again voluntarily. We are now trying to provide extra support so that eventually they can be recognised as a pre-school teacher by the Government.

A School Readiness centre demands much support from the community and many communities have stepped up to the challenge. A class may well start under a tree….


due to the interest and demand, community members decide to build a simple structure to protect the children from some of the elements…..


and then finally to start on the road to building a more permanent structure by their own efforts and resources…..


Once they have built the foundations and walls with their own resources the government will take on their proposal and may agree to pay for the roof and basic essentials for a classroom.

Equip-Tanzania are now considering supporting the government to implement their policy of one year pre-school education for 5/6 year olds along with their plans for building of satellite schools for those living in more remote areas.


Watch this space as we revolutionise rural education with 3000 SR centres during 2016. Bringing a taste of quality education to at least 150,000 children.











School Readiness – a formula for equity?

After a slow start early childhood education is now picking up a pace, with more governments increasing their pre-school provision, through a mixture of state and private investment.

What is only recently being recognised is that there are still many children not being able to access pre-school provision through living too far from the school, living in poverty, being a girl whose domestic responsibilities prevent her from starting school at the correct age, and those who are not ready to start primary school because their mother tongue is not the language of instruction.

At primary level if the language of the learner is different from the teacher they are less likely to succeed and more likely to fall behind -the teacher may not be trained to work bilingually and may not have the patience or resources to differentiate their teaching for their diverse class.

What is also certain, those children living in disadvantaged families, including those living in poverty, will not receive the cognitive stimulation at home which will support their brain development. Once these children start some distance behind other children they are likely to fall behind their peers, may have to repeat grades and eventually drop out or be too old to continue due to the pressure of early marriage,for example, in the case of girls.

If we are to improve equity -what can we do to ensure that all children start formal schooling ready to learn in a context which can be rather intimidating to many young learners?

The formula has to be RC+RF+RS=RC , where R=Ready, C=Community,F=Family, S=School and C= children.

This approach is having benefits in Tanzania where the GoT/EQUIP-Tanzania initiative on School Readiness is being piloted.


Community Teaching Assistants presenting their teaching aids made from local materials


More news on this initiative coming quite soon.




Effective training approaches in Tanzania

Here in Tanzania we have just completed  a second workshop for national facilitators for the School Readiness Programme.

The core aspect of the training is that what we practice during the national training is exactly what we expect the Community Teaching Assistants to do in their classrooms, so there is little loss in quality as we pass through the cascade.

As you can see, we spend much of the time on the floor!

We spend time on the floor national facilitators2 national facilitators1

At National Level




using masks in groupUsing pictures

During training for District facilitators (Regional level)



cta Mpwapwa

Application by Community Teaching Assistants at village level.

Not only are the results noticeable within a couple of weeks but the feedback to facilitators enthuses them greatly and they can feel great pride that their work, at such a distance, can have such an impact on children directly, within a relatively short time. During their next training they are so motivated and are able to build their ‘vision’ of their impact on the next generation of Tanzanians. This professional vision develops into a true intrinsic motivation that really changes behaviour.


Achieving the Education SDG – in Tanzania and beyond

Here in Tanzania, we are trying to support children who have been unable to access education, or arrive at the start of primary school not knowing ther language of instruction. Our School Readiness Programme is a short but essential intervention which has already allowed up to 10,000 children access to some sort of education. In one community 400 children were registered to attend the School Readiness class. Luckily for the Community Teaching Assistant, this number was reduced to 99 by reducing the number of very young children and some of the much older children for this year, which is a pilot year.

We believe, that this type of intervention is in the spirit of the new SDGs (see below).

Achieving the Education SDG: Start Early and Stay the Course
UNICEF Connect 

Blog Post
Now the razzmatazz celebrating the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals is over, it is time to get down to business. For education (Goal 4) that means prioritizing the 250 million children who are not learning the basics, to ensure this global learning crisis is a thing of the past by 2030.

The first, and most vital, step that needs to be taken is to address disadvantage from early childhood.Evidence from around the world is clear: the children who encounter learning difficulties early on, face an uphill struggle to catch up. Learning inequalities are visible before children start school, and these inequalities often widen during the school years. This pattern is apparent across a range of sources of inequality, including poverty, gender, geographic location, disability, and ethnic and linguistic minority status, with these often interacting with one other to reinforce disadvantage.

Click here to read the full blog.

Other initiatives worth reading about:

Educational Results Stories
Global Partnership for Education 

Interactive Website 
The Global Partnership for Education wants to make it possible for all children, including the poorest and most marginalized, to attend school and receive a quality education. That’s why the GPE supports developing countries from the design of their education sector plan to its funding, implementation, and evaluation.

The GPE has provided a new feature on their website titled “Results Stories” that provides an interactive scroll-down of positive stories related to the impact of global educational initiatives. The stories can be filtered by Focus Area, Country, and Media Type.


More on the Tanzania School Readiness Programme (SRP) in later posts.

SRP mpwapwa