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Promoting positive early-learning outcomes through strengthened capacity in learning through play: evidence from Nigeria, Gambia and Kenya


Quality early-childhood education (ECE) can improve school readiness, positively influence learning outcomes and increase school completion rates at primary and secondary levels. Pre-primary education offers a powerful opportunity to break intergenerational cycles of inequity linked to gender inequalities, poverty and disability. Across Africa, access to ECE continues to increase. However, challenges with quality and equitable access still exist. One of the quality challenges is the effective delivery of content through play-based approaches. While governments have committed to implementing learning through play in national policies and ECE standard guidelines, challenges exist in how best to support teachers and other stakeholders to facilitate this approach. This project seeks to generate evidence that could inform adoption and scale-up of play-based approaches by addressing gaps in curriculum content and teaching styles.

The research will be anchored in a model known as Tayari, a cost-effective and scalable ECE model that has been proven to promote school readiness. Tayari is amenable to incorporation of play-based approaches as it builds on existing pedagogical styles and it has been well received by policy stakeholders and implementers at national and subnational levels. This research will incorporate learning-through-play approaches into teacher capacity-building programs in Gambia, Kenya and Nigeria. It will also generate knowledge on innovations that build the capacity of teachers to implement play-based approaches within pre-primary schools in the three countries. The research aims at transforming harmful perceptions of power relations and gender norms through play-based approaches while promoting equitable access/provision of learning opportunities for all, including vulnerable groups, particularly children with special needs and those living in extreme socio-economic deprivation.

This project is one of the five projects selected through a Global Partnership for Education Knowledge and Innovation Exchange call for proposals for early learning in East, West and Southern Africa: Generating and mobilizing innovative knowledge for regional education challenges.

Project ID
Project Status
22 months
IDRC Officer
Joy Nafungo
Total Funding
CA$ 1,073,400.00
Institution Country
The African Early Childhood Network