This article was written by the team at ACCESS (Accelerating Change for Children’s and Youth’s Education Through Systems Strengthening), University of Auckland, New Zealand. It was originally published on 21 September 2022.

From March 2022 onward, the ACCESS research team has been rapidly transitioning from the Phase 1 political economy analysis of education systems in Colombia, Jordan, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Uganda to Phase 2 action research in three countries.

ACCESS Phase 2 has the objectives of supporting a process of change towards greater institutionalisation of AEPs and flexible education programming, while also understanding the enabling and constraining factors towards this type of change.

In Nigeria, following the national roll out of the Accelerated Basic Education Programme (ABEP), ACCESS Nigeria convened a national workshop to take the important work of rolling out and scaling up the programme nationwide. A key objective of the workshop was to catalyse momentum for implementing ABEP beyond the conflict-affected North/Northeast, where the programme was originally piloted, to reach the growing number of out-of-school children and youth in other regions. In the workshop, the national AE task team developed an action plan, which will prioritise inclusion of ABEP in federal and state policy frameworks and legislation, sustainable funding through federal and state budgets, and capacity building of teachers. ACCESS Nigeria is being led in partnership between the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC) and Plan International. 

In Colombia, months of conversations with the National Ministry of Education, education secretariats, UN agencies, and non-governmental/civil society organisations nationwide led to the creation of a working group on Flexible Education Models (FEMs). A virtual event was held on August 5, and an in-person workshop on September 8-9, in Bogotá. These events established the purpose of the working group—to work towards mobilisation, advocacy, and technical support through evidence generation and information provision to strengthen the implementation of FEMs. The group developed an action plan for the next two years, which will involve defining a shared agenda, building on the Phase 1 analysis of the needs of out-of-school children and youth and programmes available to them, and identifying the need for/advocating for technical assistance for those programmes. While participants in the first working group meeting were largely focused on the technical implementation of FEMs, a second workshop will be held in November 2022, convening decisionmakers and policy makers to contribute to the action plan. The change process in Colombia is being led by the Norwegian Refugee Council. 

In Jordan, a national accelerated education task team (NAET) has been set up, involving government, donors, implementing partners, UN agencies, and civil society, and a first workshop was held on August 28 – 30, in the Dead Sea. The aim of the NAET is to support the Accelerating Access Initiative (AAI) 2.0, an initiative to transition funding, implementation, and monitoring of the Drop Out Programme (DOP) and the Catch Up Programme (CUP) to the Ministry of Education. AAI presents a significant opportunity to build on existing momentum amongst a range of actors to ensure the programmes meet the needs of out-of-school children and youth. The workshop kicked off the establishment of the NAET, which will support coordination, transition, and monitoring of AAI, and an action plan for the group is under development. In Jordan, the work is being led by Questscope.

The three countries selected to continue in Phase 2—Nigeria, Colombia, and Jordan—were selected because, as shown in the Phase 1 political economy analyses, they represent a diversity of needs, experiences, and priorities in relation to institutionalising AEP and other flexible education programming to learn from. For example, Colombia has long history of implementing FEMs, and the high level of decentralisation of the education system provides both an opportunity and a challenge to ensuring quality. As of yet, there is a lack of coordination, awareness, and sensitization about the programmes. In Nigeria, intense and concerted efforts by government, donors, UN, and non-governmental/civil society organizations have led to rapid development of and momentum for the ABEP, and at present there is a need to roll out the programme nationwide and ensure financial sustainability. In Jordan, while the DOP and CUP have been implemented for a number of years by NGOs and funded by donors, AAI presents a unique experience to learn about the opportunities and challenges of transitioning full ownership to the Ministry of Education.

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Also read: Deconstructing Ethical and Equitable Research Practices