Millions of children remain out of school, especially where educational systems are struggling with growing populations and increasing displacement and migration. So how can we provide education opportunities for the millions of disadvantaged, over-age, out of school children and youth? Accelerated Education can be a pivotal strategy that addresses this need.
What is Accelerated Education?
Accelerated Education (AE) is a flexible, age-appropriate programme, run in an accelerated time frame, which aims to provide access to education for disadvantaged, over-age, out-of-school children and youth. This may include those who missed out on, or had their education interrupted by, poverty, marginalisation, conflict and crisis. The goal of Accelerated Education Programmes (AEPs) is to provide learners with equivalent, certified competencies for basic education using effective teaching and learning approaches that match their level of cognitive maturity.
The purpose of Accelerated Education Programmes is to provide learners with equivalent, certified competencies for basic education using effective teaching and learning approaches that match their level of cognitive maturity.
Globally, over 263 million children and adolescents are out of school, either because they never started, or because they dropped out after enrolment. The most marginalised are most at risk, including forcibly displaced children and young people, ex-combatants, girls, and children with disabilities. With each missed school year, there is greater likelihood that these children will be unable to return to formal education, resulting in greater risks to their protection.
National education policies frequently prevent learners from enrolling in primary school after a certain age. Older students who are able to enroll in formal education systems are much more likely to drop out early, and when there is an influx of over age learners, there is not only the potential problem of further overcrowding classrooms and difficult teaching conditions with multiple age ranges, but there are also considerable protection risks in mixing older and younger children in one class. Certified Accelerated Education Programmes are a key way to allow older children and adolescents to access an age appropriate education.
AEPs reduce the number of years in a learning cycle, and allow students to complete a certified, equivalent level of education in a shortened time frame. Once the AEP has been completed, it is hoped that learners will reintegrate into the regular formal schooling system, enter into skills-based technical and vocational education, or directly into the workforce with certified literacy and numeracy skills in place.
The structure of AEPs vary: in their pace of acceleration, the age ranges they target, and the approach to teaching and learning that they employ. Most AEPs are multiple exit and multiple entry meaning that once a student has completed the appropriate levels of an AEP and are the right age for the right grade they can transition into formal education; or that a student who has dropped out in Grade 3 does not have to begin an AEP in level one.
The Accelerated Education Working Group (AEWG)
The Accelerated Education Working Group (AEWG) is made up of a number of education partners supporting and/or funding AE programming. The AEWG aims to improve the quality of AE through developing guidance and tools to support a more harmonised, standardised approach to AE provision. Please see the resources section below for the AEWG guidance and tools, available in Spanish, French, English and Arabic. Since its inception, the AEWG has also committed to engaging and advocating for AE within national policy, donor strategies, and programmatic responses to address the issue of out of school, over-age learners in both emergency, crisis and protracted contexts.
Please see the AEWG animation for an overview of our work..
This collection was developed with the support of Martha Hewison, UNHCR / AEWG Chair.