Project Extension: War Child

22 October 2023
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Credit: GPE

In the context of its extension until 2027, the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) Knowledge and Innovation Exchange (KIX), a joint endeavour with Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), is offering costed extensions to a selection of current applied research projects. Following a competitive process, the project Bridges to impact through innovative EdTech: Forging links between policy, research and practice is one of those selected.  


An estimated 86% of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa cannot read basic text by the age of 10. In conflict-affected regions, this is exacerbated by instability that leads to insufficient qualified teachers, overcrowded classrooms, high dropout, low attendance, and a highly heterogeneous mix of ages, academic competency and languages in a single classroom. In many regions, the COVID-19 pandemic only made these issues more pronounced. However, it also revealed the bridging potential of EdTech.

This project is building an evidence base focused on strategies for scaling Can’t Wait to Learn, a digital and personalised learning program designed specifically for those living in conflict-affected areas. It has been widely used in both formal and informal settings and deployed by Lebanese, Ugandan, Jordanian, and Ukrainian governments as an emergency response strategy. The research evaluates its effectiveness, value for money, quality assurance at scale, policy conditions for uptake, as well as how it increases school attendance to improve cost-efficiency and learning outcomes.

Results to date

Can’t Wait to Learn has been formally endorsed by the Ministry of Education in Chad, where officials committed to supporting its scaling. It has also been included in Ugandan national curricula, integrated into capacity strengthening by Uganda’s Basic Education and Teacher Education and Teacher Development departments, and has been incorporated into the broader teaching framework. The project has also generated insights on how gender norms present both a challenge and an opportunity for EdTech. Alongside Can’t Wait to Learn, this project has included the development of Caregiver Engagement, six complementary homeschool activities designed to boost children’s school attendance and retention. Over the past few years, the project implementers have also developed a detailed scaling framework that includes support program training, implementation quality assurance, and a financial modelling tool. The pressing need for such a program has also led to program uptake in 2 additional countries, Ukraine and South Sudan, in response to the requests from their respective Ministries of Education.

Upcoming Plans 

The extension will allow the project to continue to build its evidence base for EdTech as a feasible solution to increasing access to education in conflict-affected areas. In light of its current findings, the project will continue to study and monitor the long-term effects of the Can’t Wait to Learn program, looking specifically at its impact on achieving gender equality and social inclusion metrics. This extension will also allow for the scaling of the Can’t Wait to Learn program to the national level in Uganda, drawing from its implementation in 16 schools in the country to develop a template model for widespread adoption. This phase of the project will also translate many of the current and ongoing research findings into specific tools and processes that may be used by policymakers and various decision-makers to improve access to education.

Further details on the project and updates can be found here