Grounded in rigorous research and practitioner input, the Early Learning Toolkit provides actionable resources and knowledge to assist those working to improve quality in ECD programs and learning at the primary level.
There is emerging evidence on the effectiveness of certain interventions to improve the quality of early child development (ECD) programs and primary learning in developing countries. However, there is a need to make this knowledge accessible to practitioners like program managers and educators. ECD and primary education practitioners in the developing world often lack places from which to draw practical tools. The Early Learning Toolkit bridges this gap by serving as a hub where practitioners can find actionable tools and knowledge to support implementation and awareness of evidence-based strategies for improving quality in early childhood programs and learning at the primary level.
The Early Learning Toolkit, housed within Results for Development’s Center for Education Innovations, provides users with actionable information about eleven strategies to improve the quality of early childhood programs, learning in the primary grades, and program management. These strategies have been selected based on strong evidence of their effectiveness and demonstrated practitioner need. For each strategy, users can access key implementation tips, practical tools and guides, case studies of programs using the approach, and relevant research.
Early childhood strategies
The four early childhood strategies were informed by a review of key literature on early childhood program quality. More than 50 early childhood programs and organizations from around the world were surveyed to identify the needs of practitioners. A group of expert advisors also provided input on the selection and scope of these four strategies.
The four learning strategies included in the toolkit have been selected based on a thorough review of recent education literature. Selected strategies are supported by evidence indicating their effectiveness in improving learning outcomes. Implementation tips were collected through interviews with program implementers as well as a review of literature. The learning strategies are informed by the following evidence:
Recent evaluations funded through the Hewlett Foundation's Quality Education in Developing Countries initiative
Systematic reviews of early learning interventions
Direct input from practitioners
From the earliest stages, we have incorporated feedback from practitioners to make sure the Toolkit is as relevant, useful, and user-friendly as possible. We have solicited feedback on the strategies we have selected, the types of content included, and the website itself. Is there something we missed that you would like to see here? Get in touch!
We want to hear from you
This toolkit is built on input from practitioners like you. Do you have experience implementing an approach and lessons you would like to share? Resources related to one or more of these approaches you can contribute? Thoughts on the implementation tips we have highlighted or tools we have included? Get in touch!
Explore the research on which the Early Learning Toolkit is based
The strategies highlighted in this toolkit are based on findings from these large-scale reviews and recent program evaluations.
Review of 56 studies of education programs focused on student learning in sub-Saharan Africa, examining the relative impact of 12 types of programs broken down by type of intervention (e.g., pedagogy, school supplies, school health).
Review of 43 studies of education interventions aiming to improve student learning in the developing world, with the goal of identifying school and teacher characteristics that lead to learning improvements.
Review of 76 studies education interventions designed to improve access to and quality of education in developing countries, discussing the evidence base for each of 11 types of interventions (e.g. scholarships, teaching improvements, infrastructure).
Summary of findings from 13 education interventions funded by Hewlett Foundation's Quality Education in Developing Countries initiative, distilling three core components that are associated with improved learning.
Review of 77 randomized experiments of education programs focused on improving learning in primary schools in developing countries. Identifies categories of interventions associated with large learning increases.
Review of 73 experimental and quasi-experimental evaluations of education interventions in developing countries, with analysis of overall impact of the interventions on attendance and learning outcomes.
A program in Kenya strengthening literacy instruction in early primary school through teacher training and text message support was found to improve student reading skills. A buddy reading program also resulted in small improvements in student attitudes towards reading.
The Speed School program provided out-of-school children in Mali with an accelerated 9-month program to enable them to enter into primary school afterwards, the first two months of which were taught in the mother tongue before transitioning to French. An evaluation of the program found that it led to learning improvements in French and math.
An evaluation of the Good School Toolkit, a set of techniques that aims to reduce school-based violence through behavior-change, found that it reduced the risk of physical violence by school staff against students by 42% in primary schools in Uganda.
An evaluation of Nali Kali, the government of Karnataka’s program in which teachers target instruction by dividing students into groups by ability, found that the program led to improvements in language skills for initially weak students in early grades.
An evaluation of Mango Tree’s program, which seeks to improve literacy skills among students in primary grades 1-3 through using the mother tongue as the primary language of instruction, found that the program produced significant gains in literacy skills. A lower-cost version of the same program also showed significant gains, with approximately half the effect size as the full-cost program.
This document provides a synthesis of the research evidence related to early childhood development across multiple sectors, a mapping of service entry points during the early childhood developmental stage and identification of opportunities and challenges in coordinating and integrating early childhood services.
Health & Education Advice & Resource Team (HEART), 2014