The Accelerator Program recognizes and supports cohorts of governments that exhibit the crucial ingredients needed to fight learning poverty. It was launched in late 2020 by the World Bank and UNICEF, in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, U.K.’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), UNESCO’s Institute of Statistics, and USAID. These governments demonstrate strong political and financial commitment to reducing learning poverty; willingness to measure and monitor learning outcomes; and readiness to implement large-scale, evidence-based reform programs to improve foundational literacy/skills.
The initial cohort of Accelerators includes Brazil (state of Ceará), Ecuador, Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria (Edo State), Pakistan, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone.
In pursuit of SDG4, the Accelerators program aims to demonstrate that governments that are dedicated to improving their foundational learning outcomes can achieve results within a few years through focused, evidence-based action, with adequate political and financial support.
As part of the program, the World Bank is working with Accelerator governments to:
1. Set and monitor key targets focusing on foundational learning;
2. Develop a clear, evidence-backed, and realistic plan on how to reach the targets; and
3. Strengthen the governments’ capacity to implement the reform program.
UNICEF will complement this effort and strengthen society-wide commitment and support by engaging in Accelerators to:
1. Implement advocacy campaigns to establish, publicize, and secure wide-ranging support around government targets; and
2. Increase partner alignment and accountability by aligning donors, civil society, the private sector, and other education stakeholders around the target, investment case, and programming support.
TARGET SETTING: Setting learning poverty targets and monitoring outcomes
Focusing the government and education stakeholders on a small set of outcome indicators is one source of potential acceleration. Thus, this effort will involve identifying a few key outcome indicators related to foundational skills that are easy to communicate and act upon. Countries will define the “needles” that collective efforts hope to move and establish monitoring systems for these key outcome indicators.
INVESTMENT CASE: Developing a realistic plan to reach the targets, which aligns internal and external actors and funding
Developing a plan will lead to greater alignment across the government and key partners towards an evidence-backed approach to reaching the government’s targets for foundational literacy. This alignment will allow the government to leverage technical and financial resources from both the domestic budget and from interested development partners.
This alignment can also help bring in other partners to join in on supporting the outlined investment plan to reach the government’s targets. This alignment of government and interested partners could also help accelerate progress.
This effort will result in a compelling, clear, costed, and evidence-based roadmap for achieving the set learning targets (which we refer to as the “Investment Case”). The Investment Case will be focused on foundational learning. The government, the World Bank team, and development partners will provide technical assistance to review how existing activities and plans to reach the target match up against the evidence-backed interventions. The Investment Case will also analyze existing capacity vis-à-vis what is needed to improve foundational learning.
CAPACITY STRENGTHENING: Building the government’s implementation capacity to reach the set targets
The Program will give Accelerators tools and support to build their capacities to implement the interventions identified in their Investment Case. A central aspect of the Program is to give governments opportunities to learn from each other and apply practical lessons from how other countries face similar challenges. Different forms of support under the Program include: i) Creating a Community of Practice where countries and global experts can exchange and share knowledge; ii) Making practical materials and tools easily accessible online; and iii) helping countries access technical support, advisory services and analytics, and implementation capacity development.
COMMUNICATIONS AND ADVOCACY: Informing and engaging national stakeholders behind the targets
This exercise will involve developing a communications and advocacy plan to inform and engage key national and local stakeholders around the government targets, the investment plan, and the importance of focusing on foundational learning. Additionally, it will involve designing and implementing an accompanying resource mobilization strategy to “crowd in” additional financial resources to undertake communication and advocacy plans at scale. The main aim of this exercise is to ensure a strong ownership of and support for the targets amongst policy makers and influencers and through a range of stakeholders.
PARTNER ALIGNMENT AND ACCOUNTABILITY: Aligning development partners around the program
This exercise will involve working proactively through Local Education Groups (LEGs) and other coordinating bodies among the development partners in the Accelerator countries as platforms to achieve tighter alignment around the learning targets and the Accelerator Program. UNICEF will advocate and orient the coordinating bodies to focus on the learning targets and identified evidence-based initiatives more explicitly. This will be critical to align development partners around the targets, investment case, capacity strengthening, and funding.