Organiser: World Bank (Accelerator Program)

Topic: Promising approaches to improving foundational learning and integrating new evidence into national policies and programs.

Title: What does it take to accelerate foundational learning? Country perspectives 

Date: Friday, 21st October 2022

Time: 10:30 AM – 12:00 PM Mauritius time (GMT+4)

Venue: Le Méridien Île Maurice

Storyline:  The global community is facing a learning crisis. Most children in low- and middle-income countries fail to master the foundational literacy, numeracy, and socio-emotional skills that are the building blocks for a life of learning.  “Learning poverty” (the proportion of 10-year-olds who cannot read and understand a simple story) has risen, with most countries seeing little improvement between 2015-2019. COVID greatly exacerbated the crisis, and outcomes have been worse for the most disadvantaged groups.

Today, countries face a dual challenge of recovering from pandemic losses and getting on to new, steeper trajectories of progress on foundational skills. This type of accelerated progress is challenging but possible. The World Bank and UNICEF together with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, U.K.’s Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), UNESCO’s Institute of Statistics, and USAID launched the Accelerator Program in 2020 to reduce learning poverty and accelerate progress on foundational learning.  In the Africa Region, the members include Kenya, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, Niger and Edo State in Nigeria.

We have compelling evidence about the policy changes and interventions that can unlock progress on foundational learning. The Accelerator Program aims to demonstrate that with focus, technical support, and contextually appropriate, evidence-based intervention, it is possible for government to improve foundational learning outcomes, at scale in 3-5 years. 

In this session,  representatives from Accelerator Program governments  (Edo State, Nigeria; Mozambique; and Rwanda) will discuss promising efforts underway to operationalize principles of accelerating foundational learning.  This technical session will highlight the ongoing and planned activities to improve reading proficiency levels rapidly and at-scale, sharing lessons learned on how to reach best results in different contexts given the institutional and macro constraints faced. Accelerator government representatives and World Bank country leads will also share mitigation strategies for challenges that inevitably arise. 


Share tacit operational knowledge on how to successfully implement evidence-backed foundational learning initiatives considering the institutional and macro constraints faced in many countries.
Facilitate an open discussion on the key challenges and solutions in operationalizing and integrating initiatives that have been proven successful
Elaborate on the challenges governments face and practitioner’s lessons learned specifically in the priority areas of: science of teaching, tools for measuring learning proficiency, building consensus, school leadership, capacity development, data systems, digitalization.

Expected outcome: Policy makers and practitioners will have knowledge of the practical steps to take and pitfalls to avoid when operationalizing interventions to improve foundational learning outcomes and how to integrate evidence-aligned foundational learning principles into national policies and programs.

Moderator: Saamira Halabi, Senior Education Specialist, World Bank

Rapporteur: TBD


  • Dr. Valentine Uwamariya, Minister of Education, Rwanda
  • Dr. Joan Oviawe, Commissioner of Education, Edo State, Nigeria
  • Lina Portugal Director of HR, Ministry of Education, Mozambique
  • Huma Kidwai, Senior Education Specialist, Rwanda