Organization & Team Lead Details

Organization Name

Aid for Rural Education Access initiative

What is your organization’s classification?


In what city, town, or region is your organization headquartered?

Abuja, Nigeria

Who is the Team Lead for your project application?

Charles Falajiki

Project Details

Describe the product or program that is the focus of your proposed LEAP project.

According to the World Bank’s report, 53% of children in low- and middle-income countries could not read and understand a simple story by the end of primary school, and in poor countries, the level was as high as 80%. For example in Nigeria, the Nigeria Education Data Survey report shows that 46% of grade 3 children could not read a word and 31% of grade 3 children could not complete a single-digit addition problem. As revealed in our basic reading and arithmetic assessment administered to over 6000 children between the ages of 5 to 12 across 4 conflict-affected communities in Northern Nigeria in 2019, not only do we see a large proportion of children at low levels of reading, writing and arithmetic, but the variation in each grade is wide. Only 5% could read a basic paragraph in their home language, Hausa; 2% were able to respond ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to simply written questions in English, and just 3% were able to solve a simple subtraction problem regardless of their class level. Evidently, there is a learning gap, particularly foundational skills in literacy and numeracy for many children in school and out-of-school and those living in underserved or conflict affected communities are mostly affected. 

To address this perennial learning challenge and bridge learning gaps for out-of-school children living in Internally Displaced Camps, our organization designed a solution called FastTrack. FastTrack, is a technology-enabled and self-assisted accelerated foundational skills development program designed to enable out-of-school children between the age of 5 -14 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. With significant learning gains recorded within first 40 days, this solution is currently reaching over 2500 children. Our solution and proposed LEAP project is backed by rigorous evidence that points to teaching students at their ability rather than at grade level curriculum as one of the most cost-effective interventions at improving basic literacy and numeracy. Our 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.

Select the key characteristics of your target population. Select all that apply.

  • Primary school children (ages 5-12)
  • Rural
  • Poor
  • Refugees & Internally Displaced Persons

In which countries do you currently operate?

  • Nigeria

In which countries do you plan to be operating within the next year?

  • Nigeria

How have you worked with affected communities to design your solution?

Throughout our ideation, prototyping, testing and current pilot stage, we have been working with host communities to design and strengthen the reliability of our solution to improve foundational skills development. Because we work in different communities with varying contexts and cultural diversity, our program implementation plan is flexible enough to reflect contextual appropriateness of each community without losing key elements of the solution design. Most importantly, we ensured that 50 percent of the learning facilitators championing daily learning activities are community-based to ensure that host communities take ownership of the program and support our sustainability plan. We also host a quarterly review meeting with learning facilitators and representatives from host communities to share lessons learned and adapt to new realities. Typically, our solution incorporates a weekly mentor-to-community forum which helps us stay informed and address any threat before they escalate to a major challenge.  

What is your theory of change?

Our theory of change is built on the long standing evidence of Teaching at the Right Level (TaRL) methodology and accelerated education model to promote literacy and numeracy skills development for children across India, Kenya, Botswana and Nigeria. As suggested by academic evidence, we believe that if children are taught with age appropriate curriculum, with a mother tongue as the language of instruction, they can develop basic numeracy and literacy skills competency both in their mother tongue and a second language, which is English in our contexts. 

Our solution helps out-of-school children to develop functional and basic foundational skills sufficient to develop as independent learners capable of engaging in personalized lifelong learning activities. Through a series of independent but interrelated activities such as baseline literacy and numeracy skill assessment, learning level cluster grouping, teaching and learning as well continuous monitoring and evaluation, FastTrack has been tested and validated to deliver basic foundational skills to children 2 times faster than the conventional classroom.

How are you currently using evidence within your theory of change?

Although we are still generating more evidence for large scale-up, using a series of interrelated activities, we have tested and validated our theory of change, and established that our solution can deliver basic foundational skills to children 2 times faster than the conventional classroom.  We adopt standardized literacy and numeracy assessment tools such as Early Grade Reading  Assessment (EGRA), the TaRL Assessment tool as well as research techniques such as Randomized Control Trials to continually document evidence that support our solution. For example, using the TaRL assessment tool, a rapid assessment test conducted for 1500 beneficiaries in March 2021 revealed a 97% increase in the proportion of children able to read a 4-line paragraph in Hausa, a 72% increase in reading letters, 78% increase in reading paragraphs and 86% increase in proficiency in subtraction. Similarly, as part of our ongoing scale implementation funded by TheirWorld, a recent midline assessment of 2000 children conducted across 6 learning camps reveals that more than 80% of beneficiaries have improved from no literacy skills to identifying 3 syllable words and more than 60% can perform 2 digit numeracy operations when results were compared with baseline assessment. 

Currently, our theory of change has been validated up to stage 2 of the Nesta’s Standard of Evidence. Using standardized assessment tools, we have used data generated through regular interval surveying and assessment to show effect for impact. 

How are you currently tracking and measuring your solution’s impact?

One of the major components of our solution implementation plan is monitoring and evaluation. Championed by our MEAL (Monitoring Evaluation Accountability and Learning) team and supported by the Education Programs team, we conduct biweekly literacy and arithmetic assessments that strengthen the achievement of our outcome indicators and also serve as an evidence framework for measuring impact among our impact focus groups. Using the TaRL assessment tool, a standardized paper-based and one-to-one oral testing tool for measuring literacy and numeracy level for children, our formative assessment aims to measure specific indicators including 

  1. % increase in the number of  children who can perform simple one and two digits mathematical operation including addition, subtraction 
  2. % increase in the population of children who transition from letter recognition to reading words, reading sentences, reading short paragraphs and short stories.
  3. Proportion of children aged 5-14 achieving at least a minimum proficiency level in (i)reading and (ii) mathematics

One-line project summary:

Technology-enabled and self-assisted accelerated foundational skills development program for refugee children ages 5-14 years.

What is your solution’s stage of development?

LEAP Project Pitch

Pitch your LEAP project: How and where would integrating evidence (or stronger evidence) into your theory of change increase your organization’s impact?

One of our goals for FastTrack is to establish a cost-effective evidence-based education intervention that facilitates alternative accelerated foundational skill development for the most marginalized children in different contexts. While we have been able to generate evidence that supports this aim, the complexity associated with improving learning outcomes particularly at the foundation level continue to raise certain questions on our journey to scale and this is one of our motivations for applying to host a LEAP project. We hope that by participating in mentorship and project refinement sessions and access to LEAP Fellows, we can answer the following research questions to strengthen our theory of change; 

  1. How can we improve upon the clarity of the evidence of the methodology – for example, including a control group when measuring the impact of our innovation?

  2. What evidence will help us to implement our solution with children with unique learning disabilities?  

Most importantly, as part of the LEAP sprint's expected outcomes, we hope to improve on our current level of the Nesta's Standard of Evidence, being able to generate data and isolate the impact of our intervention by externally validating our data. Unarguably, a successful outcome of FastTrack as our organization’s flagship program will help us address Nigeria’s basic education needs and increase the proportion of children aged 5-14 achieving at least a minimum proficiency level in reading and mathematics skills whether in school or out-of-school. 

Finally, hosting a LEAP project will immensely enhance our organization’s 5 year scale-up plan to reach 100,000 children by working with State Agencies for Mass Education across Nigeria and development partners such as UNICEF, British Council, TaRl Africa and Save the Children in Nigeria. At scale within conventional educational systems and through alternative learning processes, Fast Track has the potential to transform foundational learning at the basic level by supporting out-of-schoolchildren to mitigate learning gaps and equipping them with basic foundational skills for Literacy and Numeracy.

Pitch Video

Solution Team

  • Charles Falajiki Chief Development Officer , Aid for Rural Education Access Initiative
  • Mr. Gideon Olanrewaju Chief Executive Director, Aid for Rural Education Access Initiative (AREAi)
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