Learning about learning: reflections on studies from 10 countries

Other title(s): Learning about learning: reflections on studies from 10 countries

Author(s): Bartlett, Sheridan

Organisation(s): Aga Khan Development Network; Aga Khan Foundation

Date: 2013

Pages: 43 p.


The early years of life, into the first few grades of school, are widely recognised to be the most critical period for learning and lifelong achievement. Investment in these early years is also known to be highly cost-effective, and indeed one of the most promising approaches to reducing poverty and achieving equity.Getting things right in early childhood can eliminate a lot of more intransigent problems later on. Yet, in one of the great ironies of development, strong early childhood programming and appropriate support for the first few years of primary school are the exception rather than the rule. Access has increased, without question. But the vast majority of children, most of whom are poor, still have no access to early childhood programmes, let alone high-quality pre-school. Transition to genuinely supportive early primary classrooms remains equally out of reach for most of the disadvantaged children in the world, as is reflected in their high drop-out and repetition rates.Quality remains elusive in large part because of resource problems, although there is no consistent relationship between GDP and investment in children – political will is fundamental. But even in countries that have made significant budgetary commitments to children, it can be unclear how to make most effective use of available resources. There is no shortage of global evidence about the importance of support during the early years, but there is much less understanding about what works and why. This paper is an attempt to add to the existing body of evidence by reviewing a number of studies on the effectiveness of transitions programmes supported by the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) and its sister agencies across the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) over recent years.

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