Accelerate with Care: Towards Gender-Responsive Secondary Accelerated Education

Accelerated Education Programmes (AEPs) offer flexible and age-appropriate programmes which run in an accelerated timeframe for overage children and youth. These programmes offer pathways back into education where poverty, marginalisation, conflict, and crises have resulted in major disruptions to learning. Efforts by the Inter- agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE) Accelerated Education Working Group (AEWG), a group of education partners working in the field of accelerated education, have advocated for harmonised and standardised approached to AEPs to promote programmes which are certified, and which offer equivalency to national curricula through collaboration with local governments and implementing agencies. While evidence has shown the effectiveness, potential, and challenges of implementing of AEPs at primary level, limited research has been conducted at secondary level (Secondary Accelerated Education Programmes, SAEPs).

This report examines the relevance and appropriateness of SAEPs, which are currently available at the lower secondary level, and the extent to which these programmes can respond to the needs of overage learners who are likely to be in later stages of adolescence and youth, and whose socio-economic statuses pose greater challenges for accessing and continuing education. Drawing on a literature review, interviews with Education in Emergency (EiE) experts including AEWG, and a case study in Uganda, the report has sought to respond to examine: the relevance and appropriateness of SAEPs, the factors that enable and challenge the potential of SAEPs in supporting progressing through and completion of secondary education, and the extent to which SAEPs respond to gender-based needs.

The findings of this report demonstrate that SAEPs offer important and otherwise unavailable opportunities for overage learners; the accelerated timeframe, certification, and flexibility of these programmes are components which are highlighted as significant incentives for learners. However, the findings reveal tensions between these opportunities and the extent to which programmes offer relevant skills and knowledge to students’ lives and are sufficiently flexible. The findings also speak to factors which are heightened at secondary level, including: limited availability of qualified teachers, challenging teaching environments, funding mechanisms, policy barriers which prevent learners from sitting exams and continuing education. Finally, the report findings provide evidence of the ways in which gender-responsiveness is considered within SAEPs, and issues related to current structures and costs which result in learners facing further discrimination.

To promote SAEP programming which prioritises relevance, flexibility, and gender-responsiveness, this report concludes with a set of recommendations.

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Published by

Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), Secondary Education Working Group (SEWG)

Authored by

Hiba Salem, Jill Drzewiecki, and Giacomo Concina


Accelerated Education Program (AEP)
Accelerated Learning
Levels of Learning - Secondary Education