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Accelerated Education Working Group: Reducing inequality by raising quality: what makes an effective AEP?

March 9, 2017 @ 1:15 pm - 2:45 pm

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Introduction: Martha Hewison, UNHCR, Chair of the AEWG

This panel will present evidence and results from the field testing of the Inter-Agency Accelerated Education Working Group’s (AEWG)[1] 10 Principles for Effective Practice.

According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (2016) there are about 263 million children and youth out of school from primary to upper secondary[2]. 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 children has increasingly led governments, donors and agencies to explore the possibility of providing accelerated education programs (AEPs) to extend educational access, equity and relevance.  However, while there is widespread agreement on the need for such programming, there is insufficient validated documentation (Nicholson, S. (2007); NORC / University of Chicago: draft (2015)) that provides guidance, standards and indicators for efficient programme planning, implementation and monitoring.

To address some of these specific challenges related to AE, starting with the lack of guidance and standards, the AEWG has spent 2016 supporting the development of an AE Pocket Guide and 10 Principles for Effective Practice.

The Principles are the foundation for the guidance and tools and aim to clarify the essential components of an effective AEP. Each principle contains evidence-informed best practices which can be viewed as a series of key actions or indicators to support the design, implementation and evaluation of AE work. We hypothesise that when the principles are applied diligently a functional AEP will facilitate significant and consistent educational gains for children and youth who will be attending regularly, learning consistently, gaining recognised qualifications, and progressing into formal or other education.

We are now field testing the AE Pocket Guide and Principles (October 2016) and will present the results of the field testing in this panel; sharing evidence from those that are engaged in implementation, and more importantly share how we will use this evidence to inform programmes and ultimately raise the quality of AEP’s.  The work of the AEWG includes and complements ongoing efforts by other donors and implementing agencies, many who are members of this working group.

Specifically panelists will focus on:

  1. Based on the 10 Principles what are the common elements that are effective and ineffective in AEPs?
  2. The results of field testing situated within a discussion of our current understanding of the effectiveness of AEP programs generally
  3. How the AEWG tools have supported program design and good practice

Three presentations will be made by members of the Accelerated Education Working Group (AEWG):

Methodology and findings from the field testing of the AEWG tools

Presentation 1:  Jennifer Flemming, ECCN, Center for International Education, UMass, will discuss the methodology and findings from the field testing of the AEWG tools focusing on the pocket guide and principles which serves to both a) assess users’ understanding of / agreement with the principles (specifically, how the pocket guide and principles support good practice and b) highlight where more work could be done), and also to assess the utility of the scoring rubric to ‘grade’ performance of AEPs such that we are able to finalize a global methodology/standard for assessing adherence to the principles. The field-testing will occur in four stages that will result in a) final ‘simple checklist’ for rapidly assessing AEPs (relying primarily on secondary data sources) and b) final ‘extended checklist’ for providing more in-depth primary research around an ALP. These phases are detailed below.

Piloting Phase 1

  • Draft ‘simple checklist’ sent to members of AEWG and close affiliates for completion and feedback (n=6 AEPs)

Piloting Phase 2

  • Refine/finalize simple checklist items and scoring
  • Begin work to include primary data collection into additional ‘Extended Checklist’
    • Not a replacement for ‘simple checklist’, but as-needed

Piloting Phase 3

  • Send refined ‘simple checklist’ to as many AEPs as possible (n=+/-50 AEPs)
  • Conduct meta-analysis of results

Piloting Phase 4

  • Further develop and pilot ‘extended checklist’

At the time of CIES 2017, Piloting Phase 3 will be completed and the meta-analysis findings from the sample of AEPs will be presented in the panel. We will also introduce our initial plans for Phase 4 (the extended checklist that involves field-based primary research), and seek input from the audience on our proposed methodologies.

In depth data and findings from the field testing of the AEWG pocket guide and principles

Presentation 2:  Ritesh Shaw, Lead Researcher, will present in depth data and findings from the field testing of the AEWG pocket guide and principles in two very different contexts, Sub Saharan Africa and South Central Asia[3]. This presentation will focus on the application of the principles, highlighting how contextual differences are managed in assessing adherence to the principles and in ensuring effectiveness of AEP programs generally.

AEWG tools in action in program design

Presentation 3:  James Lawrie, SC, will present an example of two programs in East and West Africa[4] where the AEWG materials and principles have been utilized from the very beginning in the initial design of an AEP. The presentation will focus on the use of the tools, not only by practitioners, but also by the community and Ministries of Education and highlight the results in improvement (or not) of program quality.

Discussant: Ash Hartwell, ECCN, Center for International Education, UMass.


Global Education Monitoring report (2016) UNESCO. Retrieved from

Accelerated Learning in Post conflict Settings: A discussion paper (2006) Sue Nicolson

Accelerated Learning Programmes: a literature review, Draft July. (2015) USAID/ NORC / University of Chicago

Accelerating Learning for Children in Developing Countries: Joining Research and Practice (2004) Charlick, J.A. Washington DC: USAID (Basic Education and Policy Support)

[1] The AEWG is an inter-agency working group made up of partners working in accelerated education. The AEWG is currently led by UNHCR with representation from UNICEF, USAID, NRC, Plan, IRC, Save the Children, ECCN and War Child Holland

[2] The total includes 61 million children of primary school age (6-11 years), 60 million of lower secondary school age (12-14 years), and the first ever estimate of those of upper secondary school age (15-17 years) at 142 million.

[3] TBC

[4] TBC

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