Globally, over 263 million children, adolescents and youth are out of school, either because they never started, or because they dropped out after enrolment. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, this figure rose to 1.6 billion.
The most marginalised are most at risk, including forcibly displaced children and young people, ex-combatants, girls, and children and youth with disabilities. With each missed school year, there is greater likelihood that these children and youth will be unable to return to formal education, resulting in greater risks to their protection. It is estimated that about 24 million learners, from pre-primary to university level, are at risk of not returning to school in 2020 following the education disruption due to COVID-19 (UNESCO, 2020)
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.
National education policies frequently prevent learners from enrolling in primary school after a certain age. Older students who are able to enrol 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 strategy to allow these over age learners to access an age appropriate education.
AEPs reduce the number of years in a learning cycle, and allow learners 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 learner 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.
Learn more about the AEWG and AE in the video below:
For information on INEE’s AE work, please visit the Accelerated Education Working Group (AEWG) webpage.
This collection was developed with the support of Martha Hewison, INEE AEWG Coordinator.