The Borno State Government with support from the Department for International Development (DFID) through UNICEF, Plan International, and TaRL Africa recently concluded a small Teaching at the Right Level (TaRL) pilot reaching over 9000 children in twelve schools. The pilot provided the opportunity to mould and trial the TaRL approach in Nigeria, revealing critical insights into operations, model modifications, and highlighting components that require additional exploration. Furthermore, the team had the opportunity to examine how the approach worked in education environments affected by conflict.
TaRL Borno model
The teacher-led pilot centred on providing children in grade 4-6 with foundational skills in mathematics and reading. Teachers used the first two hours of the school day for two school terms (approximately six months) to accelerate children’s learning by grouping children by learning needs rather than age or grade and focusing on foundational skills applying the TaRL classroom methodology. Teachers were supported throughout the pilot with mentorship from head teachers, local government officials, and UNICEF and Plan International field officers.
What did we learn?
The pilot provided several interesting insights into TaRL delivery in Nigeria:
- The master trainers and mentors, who taught their own TaRL classes ahead of the teacher training, played an important role in ensuring that challenges in the schools were quickly resolved and teacher capacity to lead TaRL classes was continually strengthened, as mentors and trainers relied on their own personal teaching experience. They met and interacted with teachers on a regular basis to review and course-correct.
- Head Teachers provided a necessary coordination function at a school level by finding spaces for different groups of children to sit either in available classrooms or if there were an insufficient number of classrooms, under trees. This was vital given the large class sizes in Borno State.
- The use of local languages in teacher training and for classroom instruction appeared to make teachers and children comfortable. This may have helped achieve rapid learning.
Moving to scale
In 2019-2020, TaRL will be scaled up within Borno and to surrounding states including Adamawa and Yobe. The model for scale is being co-designed with government officials from SUBEB and the Ministry of Education, and partners: UNICEF, Plan International and TaRL Africa.