According to UN figures, enrolment in primary education in developing countries has reached 91 per cent but attendance in school does not correlate with learning and education quality remains a serious issue. Worldwide, more than 103 million young people are failing to attain basic literacy skills and more than 60 percent of this figure relates to girls and young women.
Recognising the need to find solutions to this serious and urgent issue, Suas has been implementing our Fast Forward programme in Zambia and Kenya since 2015, supporting primary girls and boys to achieve better learning outcomes and develop skills that will help them to thrive in their future lives.
The core of the programme is an holistic development framework, the ‘A-B-C-D-E’approach:
Improving academic skills (particularly literacy and numeracy) is critical in order for girls and boys to transition successfully through their school lives. Research continues to show that learners in many Sub-Saharan African developing contexts are leaving primary education without a strong enough foundation in basic reading and writing.
Young learners, particularly girls, need to internalise their own value and self-worth in order to succeed in education and their wider lives. The Fast Forward programme emphasises confidence and self-belief as a necessary element for success. The development of self-belief is multi-faceted requiring activities that involve the individual, schools and communities and as such, Suas engages at all of these levels to support learners.
Quality Education is now widely understood to involve both the acquisition of knowledge and the development of key skills required to succeed and advance in education and employment. Critical thinking is one of the most important of these ‘21st Century skills’ and requires careful cultivation throughout learners’ school lives in order to be acquired.
Digital and technological skills
Without exposure to technology learners in the developing world fall behind their peersin the global north and lose out on the advantages and opportunities connectivity can bring. By integrating technology into learning, young learners rapidly develop the skills they need to compete in a globalised, connected world.
Equality and rights awareness
At every step of the way, the Fast Forward programme emphasises equality and rights awareness as a central pillar to quality education. The true goal of education should be to empower all learners, both girls and boys to achieve their full potential. Girls, particularly from poor backgrounds, continue to lag behind in terms of completion ofeducation and transition to secondary level across much of Sub-Saharan Africa and as such are more vulnerable to risks such as early marriage.
To achieve these goals, Suas’ Fast Forward programme focuses on teachers as the agents of change. By training and ongoing professional development for those working in the most disadvantaged settings, the programme ensures teachers have the tools and confidence to support each aspect of their learners’ development.
To learn more about the Fast Forward programme please go towww.suas.ie/fastforward