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Cluster Learning for Refugee Children in Uganda

location_on Uganda

Taking facilities out of the equation to enable more children to access early years education

The Cluster Learning Approach offers a simple, sustainable early education model that places communities at the heart of education provision and removes the need for costly classrooms and staff. By using communal spaces to teach children in small groups, we can enable more children living in some of the most marginalised communities to access high quality education at comparatively low cost.


HundrED has not validated this innovation

Anyone can submit their innovation to HundrED Open. All information on this page is provided by the innovator and has not been checked by HundrED. Innovation page has been created by Children on the Edge on April 25th, 2022






Target group
November 22nd, 2022
"This innovative way of learning is easily replicated, easily scaled and by investing in community ownership it is inherently sustainable. It will help us reach many more refugee children".
Rachel Bentley, CEO & co-founder, Children on the Edge

About the innovation

Why did you create this innovation?

Congolese refugee children living in the rural Kyaka II settlement in Uganda are cut off from early years education at a vital stage of their development, due to lack of availability, poor quality provision as well as limited or no parental engagement. Numbers of children vastly outweigh the available classroom space and trained caregivers are quickly moving on to better paid positions.

How does your innovation work in practice?

Cluster group lessons close to children’s homes enable all children to access learning. By engaging with local communities to manage education provision & removing the need for school buildings, the programme is low cost & sustainable.

Children attend for 2 hours a day, 3 days a week. Using the Ugandan Framework with a focus on social, emotional & physical development, lessons are play-based & fun. Parents attend one session a week, where they watch what the children are learning & are given activities to do at home, increasing parents' confidence & engagement.

Training refugee teachers ensures children can learn in their own language, in a familiar culture, with a trusted adult who can relate naturally with parents & the local community.

Teachers are trained & accredited at Makerere University & have weekly planning sessions with trainers & peers. The provision of loans & training to start up small businesses enable teachers to feel supported & valued, improving retention rates.

How has it been spreading?

Our early pilot was presented with TheirWorld's Education Innovation Award in October 2021. With just 13 hours input over 3 months, the children taking part showed a 6.2 % improvement in International Children Development and Early Learning Assessment (IDELA) test scores.

The cluster learning approach has been scaled-up to four more zones of the Kyaka settlement, now reaching over 1000 children. The model has been commended by the Senior Education Officer from UNHCR Kampala and is ready to expand to further zones and in the future, other refugee settlements and slum areas in Uganda.

We are currently working with TheirWorld to codify the model, the first step to enable it to be shared and replicated. We are currently gathering more research, evidence and data to ensure best practice.

If I want to try it, what should I do?

We are keen to share this innovative, simple and cost effective model, so it can continue to break down barriers to vital early years learning and ensure education for all. Our plan is to create a flagship design that others can use and adapt to implement in other refugee settlements both within and beyond Uganda. Contact Children on the Edge who can share more information about the model.

Spread of the innovation

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