Teaching at the Right Level Africa

Teaching at the Right Level Africa

African Education Program

Teaching at the Right Level (TaRL) Africa is a nonprofit organisation that supports governments and organisations across sub-Saharan Africa to effectively apply the evidence-backed TaRL approach to improve foundational skills.

What problem is TaRL Africa working on?

Most low- and middle-income countries have dramatically increased access to schooling in recent years, but that has often not translated into improvements in learning for all students. According to a 2021 learning assessment by Uwezo, only two in five grade 4 students in Kenya are meeting the expectation of being able to read at least a grade 3–appropriate English text.

Factors at school and at home contribute to this problem.

  • Schools are usually organised by age and grade, with children progressing into the next grade regardless of learning levels.
  • Teachers are expected to complete the prescribed curriculum, which becomes more and more difficult each year.
  • There is often no system in place to assess children’s progress or foundational skills in early years in primary school.
  • School systems often do not provide learning support to children who fall behind.
  • Many children come from families where parents have had little schooling and cannot provide learning support even though their aspirations for children’s educational attainment can be high.
  • Children have not had any preschool exposure.

What does TaRL Africa do?

TaRL Africa’s mission is to support every child across Africa build foundational skills for a better future.

TaRL uses an evidence-backed educational approach that helps children develop basic reading and mathematics skills, opening doors to a brighter future. The approach targets the root of the learning crisis by transforming the structures that lead to it. It was developed and refined in India by education NGO Pratham and the global research centre J-PAL, and has been piloted and scaled up in over 14 countries in Africa since 2015 with support from TaRL Africa and partners.

TaRL Africa began as a joint venture by Pratham and the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) in 2018. Since its inception, TaRL Africa has worked with governments and organisations to design and develop the processes, practices, and resources required to deliver effective TaRL programmes that increase learning outcomes, harnessing the deep technical expertise of Pratham, and years of experience moulding TaRL programmes across several African countries. Globally, TaRL has been identified by the Global Evidence Education Advisory Panel as a “good buy.”

In 2022:

  • TaRL programming reached over 3 million children in over 14 countries with TaRL Africa's support.
  • Across all programmes, the proportion of children who could read a simple paragraph improved by 12–32 percentage points, and the proportion of children who could do a simple subtraction problem increased by 13–26 percentage points.

TaRL Africa is registered and headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, with teams in Côte d'Ivoire, Nigeria, and Zambia.

What information does Giving What We Can have about the cost-effectiveness of TaRL Africa?1.

We previously included TaRL Africa as one of our recommended charities because the impact-focused evaluator Founders Pledge conducted an evaluation highlighting its cost-effectiveness. The Founders Pledge report highlighted:

  • The TaRL approach is evidence-based: “TaRL is one of the most promising solutions to improving education quality that we have identified.”
  • TaRL has a strong and experienced team.
  • Donations to TaRL are highly cost-effective.
  • There is an increased demand for TaRL due to the effects of COVID-19.

We’ve since updated our recommendations to reflect only organisations recommended by evaluators we’ve looked into as part of our 2023 evaluator investigations; while we expect to soon look into Founders Pledge as part of this more in-depth evaluator research, we haven’t yet. As such, we don't currently include TaRL Africa as one of our recommended programs but you can still donate to it via our donation platform.

Please note that GWWC does not evaluate individual charities. Our recommendations are based on the research of third-party, impact-focused charity evaluators our research team has found to be particularly well-suited to help donors do the most good per dollar, according to their recent evaluator investigations. Our other supported programs are those that align with our charitable purpose — they are working on a high-impact problem and take a reasonably promising approach (based on publicly-available information).

At Giving What We Can, we focus on the effectiveness of an organisation's work -- what the organisation is actually doing and whether their programs are making a big difference. Some others in the charity recommendation space focus instead on the ratio of admin costs to program spending, part of what we’ve termed the “overhead myth.” See why overhead isn’t the full story and learn more about our approach to charity evaluation.