Concern places education at the heart of development, using it as a key to breaking the poverty cycle, and improving health, nutrition, income and opportunities for all children. In 2017, Concern’s education programming supported over 208,000 people directly and 449,000 people indirectly.

Mercy is at a low cost private school (St Francis) thanks to a cash transfer from Concern. Her parents Olivia Onderi and Anthony Kinuthia work on the Dandora dumpsite in Nairobi. Photograph: Abbie Trayler-Smith/Panos Pictures for Concern Worldwide.
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Three key focus areas of our work on education are; improving literacy, in particular through the Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) tool, increasing access to education and improving child well-being by providing a safe and encouraging school environment.

Improving literacy with EGRA

At least 250 million school-age children worldwide currently do not know the basics in reading and mathematics. This poor level of literacy drives school drop-out and exam failure and blocks students from progressing to secondary school. Ultimately, it puts millions of children at a cruel disadvantage for the rest of their lives.

In order to accurately assess, improve and monitor literacy levels, Concern has refined and expanded the sector-leading Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) tool among the most vulnerable communities.

Nafiso (name changed for security) attending class at the Galeyr ABE centre, which is supported by Concern Worldwide. Location: Dharkenley District, Mogadishu, Banadir Region, Somalia. Photo: Mohamed Abdiwahad/Concern Worldwide.

Our EGRA tool – a series of short oral tests taken in the early grades of primary school – allows us to assess and then address children’s learning needs at an early age. It also allows us to identify knowledge gaps, gather robust data and monitor progress so we can accurately evaluate the success of programmes over time. 

Safe Learning Model

All children require a safe space to learn and develop. Unfortunately, both physical and psychological aggression and gender biases are prevalent in far too many schools. Concern is working to address school-related gender-based violence (SRGBV) in education programmes across Liberia, Sierra Leone, Niger, Somalia  and Malawi. We aim to reduce violence and improve methods for responding to violence, as well as addressing attitudes and influences both within and outside of school, from local to national level. 

Students in Masaka School, Tonkolili district. Concern Worldwide is running a multi-million euro programme to design a blueprint for an effective safe learning model, which could be used by the Government of Sierra Leone. Photo: Kieran McConville, 2016.

We are also going one step further with the Safe Learning Model in Sierra Leone, a pioneering multi-million euro, five-year programme, funded by Irish Aid. The model was developed to ensure a holistic approach to education and bring together interventions that address SRGBV within a comprehensive education programme. The aim is to gather data and design a blueprint for an effective safe learning model which could be used by the Government of Sierra Leone and contextualised for different countries and this is our "working assumption" for the programme:

Children’s educational progress (specifically literacy learning outcomes) will be enhanced when they live in communities where there is more support for gender equality and children's wellbeing.

Run in partnership with UCD School of Education and involving close to 30,000 children in 100 communities (of whom 3,000 will be tracked), it is the first ever large scale research project to explore the link between school-related gender-based Violence (SRGBV) and literacy.  

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Accountability is woven into the fabric of all Concern programmes. Learn more about our accountability and transparency procedures and processes, and read our annual report.