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The Speed School pedagogy and how it unlocks the creative and learning potential of disadvantaged children in Ethiopia

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posted on 2023-06-12, 09:37 authored by Kwame Akyeampong, Jo WestbrookJo Westbrook, John Pryor
Several research studies have shown that many disadvantaged children leave school or never attend for different reasons, the key ones being poverty, child labor, distance to schools, over-age attendance, nomadic or pastoralist life styles, gender – where girls’ poor attendance or access is linked to cultural/religious factors or gender-insensitive school environments – ill health and disability – leading to inconsistent attendance – and loss of one or both parents, leaving children without household support for their education (Hunt, 2008; Akyeampong et al., 2007). However, schools can also intentionally or unintentionally ‘push’ disadvantaged children out through unresponsive pedagogy that excludes them from much of the learning process. Many such children are usually assumed to be the least educable, from poor and often illiterate families and having come late to schooling or at least had their education disrupted. Their disadvantaged backgrounds often compromise their readiness to learn. Unlike traditional pedagogical practices in many African classrooms, which are characterized by strong teacher-centered teaching, a pedagogy developed in an accelerated learning program (ALP) known as the ‘Speed School’ program in Ethiopia, demonstrates potential to give such children more control over how they learn. This paper discusses how the pedagogy promotes strong student engagement in the learning process, which unlocks the learning and creative potential of former school dropouts. The paper argues that the pedagogy achieves this goal because it utilizes principles of culturally responsive social, creative and emotional learning to promote student agency in learning.


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