Chapter 2: Reflections on systems practice: implementing teaching at the right level in Zambia
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In many parts of the world, nonproficiency in primary schools is a widespread and systemic problem. Teaching at the Right Level (TaRL) is an approach that responds to this problem by centering on the learning dynamic between teachers and students. In this chapter, we present the case study of how TaRL was introduced–and continues to evolve–in the Zambian education system as an illustration of practical application of working with systems. Guided by a set of key principles described in this chapter, TaRL Africa works on three core systemiclevers: information flows, rules of the system and mental models. The backbone of this approach is transforming classroom dynamics and generating granular evidence that is useful directly to the teachers, while strengthening the monitoring mechanisms that allow these data to be aggregated, visible and owned across the education system, thereby re-aligning incentives. We trace the evolution of the Zambian TaRL program from initial idea to pilot, to the Ministry of Education's expansion of the program, to its integration into core systemic functions and planning for sustainability. We illustrate how working systemically means aligning on goals and principles, while co-creating with key systemic actors the path to improved learning outcomes.