Changemaker: Charles Falajiki
Country of implementation: Nigeria
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, an alarming 258 million children and youth of primary- and secondary school age were out of school, according to the World Bank. Even for many that were in school across Sub-Saharan Africa, the low schooling quality has led to an increase in the population of 10-year-old children who couldn't read and understand a simple age-appropriate story. For example in Nigeria, data from Nigeria Education Data Survey, one of the most comprehensive literacy studies conducted across Nigeria revealed that more than 50% of children in Primary 1 to Primary 3 could not read a word and 60% of grade 3 children could not complete a single-digit addition problem. With millions of disadvantaged children leaving primary school without basic reading and mathematics skills, they are further marginalized from lifelong learning opportunities, future work readiness, and employability competencies.
To tackle this challenge particularly for the most marginalized children, Charles and his colleagues designed FastTRACK. FastTRACK is a technology-enabled and self-assisted accelerated foundational skills development program designed to enable out-of-school school-aged children to acquire functional literacy and numeracy skills which are vital, indispensable skills needed for virtually any further education and to lead an empowered, self-determined life. Their innovation combines 3 proven, independent teaching and learning approaches, namely: the Mavis Talking book and pen, an offline digital pen with audio capabilities, and a book with unique dot patterns and learner-friendly graphics to aid understanding and comprehension; the Teaching-at-the-Right-Level methodology, a scalable and effective remedial approach that helps children develop basic reading and mathematics skills, using oral tests to sort children into distinctive groups that match their learning levels; and mother tongue-based literacy acquisition model; a dual language approach which involves using Hausa as a bridge to learning English.
Using Mavis Talking books and pens, TaRL approach and a bilingual instruction model, FastTRACK, with support of the GCM Community Action Project Grant trained 10 learning facilitators to deploy innovative teaching methodologies to directly improve literacy and numeracy skills competency of 100 children and over 2000 indirect reach. Through this project, Charles and his colleagues are also mobilizing government stakeholders to adopt FastTRACK as an evidence-based intervention to tackle illiteracy and innumeracy across Nigeria. For more information, visit http://fasttrack.areai4africa.org/