An estimated 20% of children in cocoa growing areas of Côte d’Ivoire miss out on their fundamental right to education. Bridging classes are a type of accelerated education programme to help out-of-school kids catch up on missed learning and get back into the classroom. A new study from ICI examines their impact.
Using innovative teaching methods in bridging classes has proven to be effective in helping children in Côte d’Ivoire to re-enter formal schooling, the study finds. Between 2019 and 2022, ICI interviewed more than 800 children in 22 communities before and after they attended bridging classes, financed by Nestlé and Jacobs Foundation. Set up as part of the Transforming Education in Cocoa Communities project, the classes used the Teaching at the Right Level methodology to help children learn at their own pace. The results are promising. The classes were effective in getting 99.8% of kids back into mainstream school, children learned quickly and scored high grades, and child labour decreased.
Innovative teaching methods
The classes used a child-centred approach, where children are encouraged to learn at their own pace. Teaching at the Right Level, developed by the NGO Pratham, has indeed been proven to improve children’s skills in reading and maths. It was adapted for use in bridging classes, in partnership with the Ministry of Education of Côte d'Ivoire and with support from the Jacobs Foundation.
Promising outcomes for children
99.8% of children re-joined mainstream school, with similarly high rates for girls and boys. Further, 91% of the children scored average grades or above, compared to 14% of children attending bridging classes without the innovative teaching methods.
72% of children stayed in school. More than a year after the classes had ended, 76% of girls and 69% of boys were still attending school. The most common reasons for not staying in school were: not liking school, no school meals, parents moving away, or families being unable to afford school supplies or fees.
Prevalence of child labour more than halved. Before starting the bridging classes, 63% of children were in child labour, compared to 23% after the classes had ended.
The results of this project are undeniably positive, especially in the context of the Covid pandemic, which caused child labour to increase in many communities. However, continued monitoring and support is needed to help kids stay in school and respond to changing needs.
Nestlé has joined many other stakeholders to support the Child Learning and Education Facility, a pooled funding mechanism to improve access to and education quality in Côte d’Ivoire. This includes scaling-up the innovative teaching method from this pilot in bridging classes and mainstream schools. Nestlé will continue to provide bridging classes in cocoa-growing communities, to invest in improving children’s access to quality education, and to follow-up and support children through its child labour monitoring and remediation system.