The INEE website has moved to You are currently viewing the static archive of the former INEE website, established in May 2019.

Promoting access to quality, safe, and relevant education for all persons affected by crisis

Accelerated Education

Children and youth frequently miss out on substantial amounts of schooling due to a variety of reasons including poverty, marginalization, conflict, and crisis. Currently, according to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, there are approximately 263 million children and youth out of school. With each missed school year, there is greater risk that they will be unable to return to formal education and greater risks to their protection as a result. Responding to the needs of these learners has increasingly led governments and agencies to provide more flexible forms of education such as "accelerated education".

Watch the video and read below to learn more.

What is Accelerated Education?

Accelerated Education (AE) is a flexible, age-appropriate programme, run in an accelerated timeframe, which aims to provide access to education for disadvantaged, over-age, out-of-school children and youth. This may include those who missed out on, or had their education interrupted by, poverty, marginalisation, conflict and crisis. The goal of Accelerated Education Programmes is to provide learners with equivalent, certified competencies for basic education using effective teaching and learning approaches that match their level of cognitive maturity.

These condensed, accredited programs give older students the opportunity to cover the same ground as standard-age learners but at a much faster pace. The curriculum is condensed, so they can complete it in half the number of years normally required for that level, or less. They can also study additional material suitable for their age and where they live. By catching up in this way, learners can then integrate into mainstream education (in the right class for their age); transfer to the next educational level (normally secondary) or to skills-based technical and vocational education. Learn more with this brief on accelerated education.


Key Principles

In 2016, the Accelerated Education Working Group (AEWG) developed 10 Principles for Effective Practice for Accelerated Education. The 10 Principles aim to clarify the essential components of an effective accelerated education program. Each principle contains evidence-informed best practices that can be viewed as a series of key actions or indicators to support the design, implementation, and evaluation of Accelerated Education work.

The 10 principles are:

  1. AE is flexible and for over-age learners
  2. Curriculum, materials and pedagogy are genuinely accelerated, AE-suitable, and use relevant language of instruction
  3. AE learning environment is inclusive, safe, and learning-ready
  4. Teachers are recruited, supervised, and remunerated
  5. Teachers participate in continuous professional development
  6. Goals, monitoring, and funding align
  7. AE center is effectively managed
  8. Community is engaged and accountable
  9. AE is a legitimate, credible education option that results in learner certification in primary education
  10. AE is aligned with the national education system and relevant humanitarian architecture

The AEWG hypothesis is that when all 10 principles are applied well, an Accelerated Education program will facilitate significant, consistent educational gains for children and young people.

Click to learn more about the 10 Key Principles of Accelerated Education.


Key Activities

Accelerated Education Working Group

The Accelerated Education Working Group (AEWG) is made up of education partners working to strengthen the quality of programming through developing guidance to promote a more harmonized approach to Accelerated Education. The AEWG is currently led by UNHCR with representation from UNICEF, UNESCO, USAID, NRC, Plan, IRC, Save the Children, Education and Conflict Crisis Network (ECCN), and War Child Holland. The AEWG comes together bi-annually to share experiences and expertise.

AEWG Purpose
Globally, Accelerated Education programs are employed with more and more frequency to address the overwhelming numbers of out of school children and youth. However, while there is widespread agreement on the need for such programming among agencies and governments, there is insufficient validated documentation that provides guidance, standards and indicators for efficient program planning, implementation, and monitoring. In practice, Accelerated Education takes different forms in different countries, and even within countries. Moreover, there is little significant documentation on the impact of such programming, including how far we are contributing to learning achievement and how successful we are at facilitating pathways between accelerated programming and formal and non-formal education.

To address some of these specific challenges related to Accelerated Education, starting with the lack of guidance and standards, in 2014 UNHCR invited a small number of education partners working in the area to participate in the formation of a working group. Rooted in the need for more standardized approaches and recognizing the critical need for clarity around Accelerated Education as a basis for research, evaluation, and effective delivery, the AEWG has developed a clear definition of Accelerated Education and reviewed, distilled, and field tested a set of global good practices and guidelines for Accelerated Education programs.

AEWG Goal: To strengthen the quality of Accelerated Education programming through a more harmonized, standardized approach.

AEWG Objectives

  1. Improve Accelerated Education (international and national) policy and systems through advocacy
  2. Strengthen the evidence base for Accelerated Education through research and knowledge management
  3. Improve Accelerated Education programming  through the development, promotion and dissemination of Accelerated Education guidance and tools

Find out more about the work of the AEWG in the 2019 Brief and the 2018 Directions documents.

For more information on the work of the AEWG, please contact Martha Hewison at [email protected].


Accelerated Education Principles and Guide

In 2016, the AEWG developed 10 Principles for Effective Practice for Accelerated Education and an accompanying Guide to Accelerated Education Principles. 

The 10 Principles (elaborated above) are accompanied by a Guide that specifies key definitions, essential information, recommended actions based on good practice, indications of challenges, examples, case studies, and suggested reading.

Field testing of these two tools was conducted between mid-2016 and March 2017. The testing involved: (1) the development of a checklist, based on the 10 principles and associated sub-principles; (2) solicitation of feedback from global Accelerated Education experts; and (3) field visits to four Accelerated Education programs in Kenya, Afghanistan, and Sierra Leone, as well as a desk study conducted in Mali. The goal was to test the relevance, utility, and application of the Accelerated Education Principles and Guide within various contexts, with different target populations, and at various stages of the program cycle. Full results and recommendations from these field studies are available in the Synthesis Report, and summarized in an Executive Summary.


Accelerated Education Case Studies

The field testing also resulted in a series of case studies from Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, and two programs in Dadaab refugee camp in North East Kenya that highlight how contextual differences are managed in assessing adherence to the principles and in ensuring effectiveness of AE programs generally. Click below to read each of the case studies, or download them all here.

Sierra Leone
Save the Children

Children in Crisis 

RET International

Dadaab, Kenya
Refugee Council



With a succinct one-page Accelerated Education Definitions document, the AEWG has clarified the differences between several key terms, including: Accelerated Education, accelerated learning, catch-up programs, remedial programs, and bridging programs.


Learning Agenda

The AEWG has recently developed a Learning Agenda that aims to organize and generate evidence to inform strategic planning, project design, project implementation, monitoring and evaluation, and in-service training efforts for Accelerated Education. The Learning Agenda is comprised of a set of research questions in priority development areas for which the AEWG intends to organize and disseminate existing knowledge and data, generate new evidence, and produce conclusions and recommendations through academic research, program evaluations, and multi-method tests of the assumptions and principles that have been developed to guide Accelerated Education programming.

Learn more in this May 2018 blog post, "Making the Case for Accelerated Education".


Key Resources

Other Resources


Key Links

Do you have something you think should be added to this page? Let us know by writing to [email protected]. Thank you!