In recent posts we have highlighted some of the discussion in government and the media around the concept of “catch-up”. This article from The Economist focuses on some of the challenges faced in sub-saharan Africa where “many school systems cling to over-stuffed curriculums” and a system that is inflexible and inevitably leaving behind many children grasp the basics of literacy and numeracy. However, there is a method, used in Botswana, that borrows from an approach used by an Indian NGO, Pratham, known as Teaching at the Right Level (TaRL). It “uses speedy oral tests to sort children in their last years of primary school into groups that match their learning levels, rather than their age”. Each group gathers for an hour each school day to practise (maths or reading). In one Indian state after 50 days of catch-up classes the percentage of children able to read a paragraph went from 15% to 48%. With ten countries in Africa trialling this approach and running catch-up classes benefiting a quarter of a million children (grades three to five) the percentage of children able to read a simple story went from 22% to 41%. Whichever project can increase literacy so substantially needs to be supported wholeheartedly and funds are needed to back these.