Teaching at the right level: from concern with exclusion to challenges of implementation

Organisation(s): Global Education Monitoring Report Team; Pratham Resource Centre

Publisher(s): UNESCO

Date: 2020

Pages: 38 p.

Serie: Background paper prepared for the 2020 Global education monitoring report: Inclusion and education


Universalizing access to schooling has been one of India’s most remarkable achievements from its recent past. Today, less than 5% of children in the 6 to 14 age group are out of school. However, as more and more data on learning outcomes from the primary school stage becomes available, it is becoming clear that many children do not acquire essential foundational skills such as reading and arithmetic at the right time, early in primary years. While several solutions have been proposed and implemented, in a scenario wherein there is a massive variation in learning outcomes - and a significant number of children are "lagging behind" - the Indian education non-profit Pratham has pioneered an approach referred to as "Teaching at the Right Level" (TaRL). TaRL was designed for helping Grade 3 to 5 (and even older) children who have been “left behind” quickly “catch up”. Over the years, it has been implemented by community volunteers, Pratham staff, and government frontline workers and teachers across India. Moreover, for more than a decade as the approach has evolved, it has been rigorously evaluated via a series of randomized control trials carried out by researchers from Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) at MIT. Today, TaRL reaches millions of children each year. It has not only been scaled to locations across India, but more recently begun to also be adapted and scaled by organizations and governments in countries in Africa, South Asia, and Latin America. It is one attempt to reverse the tide of children being "left behind" so that they have a real opportunity of completing at least the elementary stage of education successfully.

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