Teaching at the Right Level (TARL) Africa
Mission: To support every child across Africa build foundational skills for a better future.
Teaching at the Right Level (TaRL) Africa which began as a joint venture between Pratham and J-PAL is now an independent organization registered in Kenya, with our headquarters in Nairobi. We strengthen children’s foundational literacy and numeracy skills by using the evidence-based Teaching at the Right Level approach. TaRL Africa supports governments and organizations in over 14 countries across Sub-Saharan Africa. We have teams working directly with governments in Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Nigeria, and Zambia. Additionally, we provide remote support to partners in other African countries. We build the capacity of governments and organizations to design, deliver and scale impactful programs, while learning and sharing how the approach can be improved for different contexts.
Schooling for All, Learning for Few
Governments across Africa have made tremendous gains in promoting school enrolment, with most low- to middle-income countries now enrolling primary school-age children at rates close to those in high-income countries. But data on learning highlights an unfortunate truth: enrolment in school does not guarantee learning. In schools across the continent, many children are well below grade level, and millions of children fail to master even basic reading and mathematics skills.
How can children be in school and not learn even the basics? Pratham and the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) have spent the last two decades trying to untangle this problem and develop solutions. Our experience and research reveal that structural inefficiencies in education systems are at the root of the problem. School systems are not well designed to address the needs of students who may be the first in their families to attend school or who enter the school system without having gained early-learning skills during early childhood. Often, children who miss key concepts in the early grades never have a chance to catch up, no matter how many years they spend in school.
What is Teaching at the Right Level (TaRL)?
TaRL, an approach pioneered by Indian NGO Pratham, targets the root of the learning crisis by transforming the structures that lead to it. The approach works by dividing children (generally in Grades 3 to 5) into groups based on learning needs rather than age or grade; dedicating time to basic skills rather than focusing solely on the curriculum; and regularly assessing student performance, rather than relying only on end-of-year examinations.
Since 2001, J-PAL-affiliated researchers have rigorously tested the theory of change underlying Pratham’s TaRL approach. Through 6 randomised evaluations in India, as well as a growing body of research in Africa, they find that when TaRL is successfully implemented, learning outcomes improve.
Is TaRL right for my context?
TaRL is not right for every context, organisation or government. Assess whether it might be appropriate for your circumstances, and then engage with TARL Africa teams on your ideas and plans.
The TaRL Approach
TaRL is an adaptable, holistic approach which helps education systems focus on the basics and improve learning for all.
The approach is made up of several components which work together to improve learning outcomes. Each aspect of the approach is essential, and the full approach has the potential to provide all children with foundational skills. This website is not intended to give you a complete guide on how to design a TaRL approach for your setting, but rather to complement in-person TaRL training and sharing.
Visit the blog for TaRL news and insights from around the world.
The TaRL approach invests in systems and educators to strengthen children’s foundational skills
A teacher facilitating a TaRL numeracy activity. Photo: TaRL Africa Foundational literacy skills such as reading, writing, and arithmetic are important. These skills help children learn and master concepts in school, which build them to become successful,...
Kenya needs to invest in advancing literacy and numeracy skills in early grades.
Learners practice a literacy activity in small groups during a TaRL session. Photo: TaRL Africa Learning outcomes for children in early grades are poor despite ambitious education reforms in the country, such as the free primary education act and the introduction of...
Embedding Teaching at the Right Level programmes into government systems in Nigeria
A teacher facilitating a TaRL literacy activity in Nigeria. (Photo: British Council) “My donkey’s name is Bare.” This seems like a simple sentence. However, according to statistics from the 'Learning Crisis in the Nigerian Literacy of 2021' 70 percent of...