LAS VEGAS — Researchers and education professionals agree that education, whilst providing a basic skills set, must also be tailored to fit the individual’s environment, abilities, and background. UNICEF, in order to advance the global mission of primary education for all children, has been working to improve children’s learning outcomes through the Innovations in Education initiative.
Currently, there are at least 58 million children around the world who do not attend school due to a broad scale of pressing issues- from poverty and hunger to natural disasters and armed conflict. These issues undoubtedly have a critical impact on a child’s ability to attend school as well as their ability to learn. If a child’s environment is not conducive to learning, positive outcomes will not be forthcoming.
For that reason, if the goal of every child being able to attend school and efficiently learn is to be met in the coming years, new and unique approaches must be created that are adaptable to the unique lifestyles and backgrounds of children. By addressing the needs of their particular environments, socioeconomic statuses, cultures, and etcetera, UNICEF has led this campaign with its Innovations in Education initiative.
UNICEF said, “UNICEF is engaged in Innovations in Education, an effort that identifies and develops innovative educational models that can improve children’s learning outcomes and advance the international equity agenda. Innovations in Education identifies potential innovations, provides support to determine if they can be implemented effectively at necessary scales and measures success.”
Partnering with The Center for Education Innovations (CEI) and Results for Development (R4D), UNICEF has identified five countries that could benefit from the scaling up of innovations in education through certain practices, classroom monitoring, and learning schemes. These countries are Brazil, Peru, Ethiopia, Ghana, and Sudan. Each country has a program that is tailored to address the unique circumstances of education in the area. Two notable programs of Innovations in Education are in Ghana and Brazil, where projects in early learning and literature are making a considerable impact on education.
Community Run Play schemes in Ghana are being utilized to tackle the prevalence of inadequate kindergarten and what UNICEF calls ‘home based stimulation’.
UNICEF said, “Children in deprived rural villages in Ghana do not get the early years education and care that they need due to poor kindergarten quality and inadequate home-based care and stimulation. This harms their development and future prospects and plays an important role in the transmission of poverty.”
To improve these, teachers and community volunteers are being trained to utilize local resources in creating learning materials and encourage active, engaging activities among children. The program is expected to expand in the next year, serving 56 rural primary schools, over 5,600 children, and 100 teachers.
In Brazil, improving literacy rates among children by the time they reach eight years old is a top priority for Innovations in Education. At least eight million of Brazil’s 13 million children live in poverty, which plays a role in their ability to attend school or even learn how to read. The program strategy in Brazil is designed to assess the literacy and writing skills of children in grades two and three. These results determine what teachers’ curricula should be focused on and what teachers need for further development. These assessments are critical in determining what materials are needed for children to meet goals and to improve teacher training.
UNICEF does not fail to mention the positive impact such a program has made. According to the Innovations in Education program overview, 70 percent of children who participated reached determined literacy levels, including reading and text comprehension by the end of the school year.
– Candice Hughes