Accelerated Education Programme (AEP) is “a flexible, age-appropriate programme that promotes access to education in an accelerated time-frame for disadvantaged groups, over-age out of school children and youth who missed out or had their education interrupted due to poverty, marginalization, conflict and crisis.” The goal of AEP is to provide learners with equivalent certified competencies for basic education and learning approaches that match their level of cognitive maturity.
The Dakar Framework for Action (World Education Forum 2000: 9) stresses the importance of meeting the educational needs of children affected by conflict, natural calamities, and instability and conducting educational programmes in ways that promote mutual understanding, peace, tolerance and help to prevent violence and conflict (UNESCO 2000:9).
Education is a fundamental tool for the protection of conflict and disaster-affected children and youth from harm and exploitation. This is a crucial part of UNESCO’s advocacy message.
Under appropriate conditions of security, provision of education can help protect children and youth from recruitment into fighting forces, forced labour, prostitution, drug abuse and criminal activities. In post-conflict settings, education contributes to the reintegration into society of former soldiers and other children and youth associated with fighting forces.
Uganda has been a host country for refugees from South Sudan where the majority are currently settled in the refugee camps of West Nile region due to the escalating rebellion, civil war and armed conflict in their home country.
The most affected are always children and youth whose education development is heavily disrupted by immigration into new areas and roaming about within the settlement camps.
The National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC), in collaboration with War Child Canada, developed Accelerated Education Programme (AEP) that focuses on providing relevant and appropriate education to learners in refugee camps and the host communities of Lower Secondary school age (16–45+) in Adjumani District.
The AEP secondary school tier is a bigger stride in addressing the education gap within refugee communities not only in Uganda, but also in other neighbouring countries. Benchmarking the primary AEP, the secondary education program intends to infer the entire process of education and its cognitive, emotional, and social components.
The learners will acquire and graduate with the necessary competencies that will enable them to ‘catchup’ and re-join learners of the same (or near) age group in the formal education programme.
SELECTION OF SUBJECTS
The Accelerated Education Programme subjects were selected based on the Uganda Education Policy which states that learners must study the seven core subjects: these are: Mathematics, English, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, History and Geography. So learners under AEP shall take all the core subjects.
In addition, learners have plenty of benefits when they study the following subjects: Religious Education which addresses the prevalence of early marriages for the girl-child, cases of indiscipline and moral modelling; Personal, Social and Health Education/Physical Education help learners to develop physically, learn to live together, develop talents and become emotionally balanced; Guidance and Counselling trains teachers on the integration of guidance and counselling services in the delivery of the education curriculum.
The materials for AEP Lower Secondary Tier have gone through the curriculum development and approval processes at NCDC, thus conform to the national education standards.
THE AEP STRUCTURE
The AEP materials have been structured into two levels I and II, which correspond to Senior 1–2 and Senior 3–4 respectively of formal school programme. A learner who completes Level I of AEP and passes the end of year examinations could transit into Senior 3 of formal school. A learner who performs well in Level II sits for the Uganda Certificate of Education (UCE) Examination together with their counterparts in formal school. If this passes, he/she will transit to upper secondary or a vocational training institution. It is important to underline that this is dependent on the age of the learner, hence the emphasis on older learners.
Ideally, teaching AEP calls for a methodology that is interactive and learner-centred, incorporating other aspects of multiple-intelligence learning. The fact that teaching and learning are accelerated, and the curriculum content is compressed and condensed, the four ‘P’ elements are at the core of the accelerated learning cycle:
- Processes: creating awareness for learning
- Psychological: developing relationships for learning
- Physiological: ensuring readiness for learning
- Physical: creating movement and space for learning (warm and welcoming environment). These core elements provide the physical and psychological space in which the learner can learn effectively.
Teachers for this programme are specifically recruited from the general pool of teachers in the country. They are oriented before and continuously supported during the implementation process.
Bearing in mind that some of the learners are breadwinners and others have breastfeeding babies, the time allocation will be as follows:
- Five contact hours of teaching per day
- Each subject is allocated three contact hours a week
- Personal Social and Health Education/Physical Education (PSHE) allocated one contact hour
However, the timetable is flexible and allows for remedial teaching.
Learners will be assessed in order to prepare them for:
- Formal education after 1 or 2 levels (especially those who are still young)
- Vocational courses
By Generous Kazinda, Curriculum Specialist, Special Needs Education Secondary Department, NCDC.