Asides from the fact Nigeria accounts for the world’s largest out of school population, millions of her primary school-aged in-school learners and their unenrolled counterparts lack the foundational literacy and numeracy skills to either enroll, complete and/or transition to secondary education. The Nigeria Education Data Survey, one of the most comprehensive literacy studies conducted across Nigeria, revealed that 46% of students in primary 3 cannot read a word and 31% of these children cannot complete a single-digit addition problem. Similarly, from over 6000 children surveyed during a baseline study across 4 states, only 5% could read a basic paragraph in their home language, Hausa; 2% were able to respond ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to simple written questions in English, and just 3% were able to solve a simple subtraction problem. Ultimately, lack of cost effective-interventions backed by rigorous evidence of impact and sustainability as well as limited governmental support for scale remains key barriers towards addressing this learning challenge. Without urgent, contextually-relevant and tailored actions to accelerate learning recovery and re-engage both out-of-school children and school-aged students in active functional and foundational skills development, many children will be grow and live through life without the requisite competencies to participate in any future learning, take up active employment or pursue entrepreneurial ambitions. Addressing gaps in foundational skills development, is therefore, critical to ensure access to quality lifelong learning and sustainable livelihoods.
Our innovation, called FastTrack, is a technology-enabled and self-assisted accelerated foundational skills development program designed to enable out-of-school refugee 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. This solution, currently reaching over 4000 children, 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. FastTrack is currently deployed across 7 internally displaced person (IDP) camps reaching over 2,500 children with evidence of impact and sustainability generated through regular formative assessment surveys.