Call for Applications: Production of a documentary on the impact and successes of the TaRL approach in Africa – Leveling the Learning Field


The 2022 UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report highlights that 87% of children aged 10 or below in Africa are unable to read simple text or solve basic arithmetic, a situation worsened by COVID-19 school closures. In response, African countries have intensified efforts to address this learning poverty. Key commitments were made at the Transforming Education Summit in September 2022 and the ADEA Triennale in October 2022, with the ADEA High-Level Policy Dialogue Forum in Lusaka, Zambia, in November 2023 tracking progress. Ministries resolved to solidify these efforts to improve foundational learning.

In February 2024, the African Union declared 2024 as the Year of Education, under the theme ‘Educate an African fit for the 21st Century,’ aiming to build resilient education systems for increased access to inclusive, quality, and relevant learning. This initiative aligns with the Continental Education Strategy for Africa 2016-2025 (CESA 16-25) and SDG-4 targets. The Year of Education will drive advocacy and concrete actions at country, regional, and continental levels, with a focus on improving foundational learning and STEM education. Through these efforts, ADEA and its partners aim to support successful policies, share effective practices, and advocate for increased investment in addressing foundational learning challenges.

Leveling the Learning Field – A Documentary on TaRL

Given the background above, ADEA is keen to showcase critical successes in foundational learning to inform policymakers, implementers, funders, and the broader education community. This will be a tool to amplify the messaging on the foundational learning crisis, by showcasing successful and effective interventions that can tackle learning poverty on the continent at scale. The Teaching at the Right Level (TaRL) methodology pioneered in India by Pratham, piloted in Zambia and now scaling across Africa lends itself effectively to this.

TaRL is an evidence-based approach that structures classroom instruction for learners in middle / upper primary to align with their current learning levels rather than by age or grade. The approach seeks to accelerate learners’ acquisition of foundational literacy and numeracy skills by grouping them according to their levels of learning and the use of appropriate classroom methodology. The approach goes beyond the traditional talk and chalk method of teaching. Instead, it supports play-based learning and context-appropriate activities suited to children’s current knowledge levels.


ADEA, TaRL Africa, VVOB and Ministries of Education in participating TaRL countries want to develop a 25 - 30-minute feature documentary that follows the implementation of TaRL in primary schools across countries in Africa. To showcase how TaRL is transforming education for underserved students, and communicate its successes and wins across various countries, the documentary will capture TaRL implementation in classrooms; and interviews with beneficiaries (E.g. learners), implementers (E.g., teachers, education policymakers and experts) and other stakeholders (E.g., actors in the community). Through this documentary, we will present the TaRL approach as one of the initiatives addressing learning poverty and use it as a key advocacy tool for the AU Year of Education, as well as a knowledge-sharing tool for what works in improving foundational learning outcomes.

Story Arc

We intend to deliver the story through the lens of a young beneficiary of TaRL in Zambia, propped with perspectives from the child’s parents and policymakers. New and old videos of TaRL from other contexts will profile different African countries applying the methodology to improve foundational literacy and numeracy. We intend to achieve a single story that showcases the learning challenges before TaRL, the method, the implementation approach, immediate output, successes, impact, and adaptation. The documentary will equally examine the challenges faced by teachers, gaps in education systems and delivery, and possibly use data to showcase the benefit of TaRL as an approach to overcome these challenges and gaps.

The documentary will showcase interviews, vox-pop and submissions by policymakers, development partners, teachers and instructors delivering TaRL, beneficiaries, including pupils and their parents in various countries. Our goal is to extract the feedback of all stakeholders regarding TaRL and build that into a story that encourages heads of government in Africa to do more for foundational learning.

Key Themes

We will be exploring the following key themes in the documentary at the foundational learning level:

  • Appreciating challenges in education systems and classrooms in Africa.
  • Grouping children by actual learning levels.
  • Delivering targeted instruction tailored to current competencies.
  • The crucial role of teacher training and buy-in.
  • How data guides positive changes and decision-making in teaching and learning.
  • Understanding true student potential.
  • Refining groupings and addressing learning gaps.
  • Empowering students through mastering foundational skills.

Visual Approach

Immersive, cinema verité filming will capture TaRL classrooms up close. Interviews with teachers, learners, parents, officials, and NGOs to reveal personal perspectives. Animated segments will explain the history and goals of TaRL, showcase available data (baseline, midline and endline for pilot programs). A voice-over will drive a compelling narrative to enunciate the values of the methodology and how it is addressing learning poverty, changing lives, giving hope to African children, and crafting a new future for Africa.


By documenting TaRL in an African context, this documentary will demonstrate how targeted, level-based education can create more inclusive, productive classrooms and contribute to addressing learning poverty. It will inspire stakeholders to support such evidence-driven teaching reforms across the continent.

The documentary will showcase an inspirational model of targeted education to wider audiences. It aims to influence institutions and policymakers to embrace evidence-based, level-appropriate teaching tailored to each child rather than follow a teacher centered approach to teaching and learning. This documentary will also showcase how to create more inclusive and effective education environments.


Story outline – The documentary will be developed with Zambia as the lead story, following the successes of the Catch-Up program. It will follow the story of a beneficiary, preferably a young boy/girl, whose learning chances were enhanced thanks to the variant of TaRL implemented in Zambia. The documentary then incorporates views and perspectives from other countries and initiatives. ADEA and TaRL Africa propose to capture and showcase stories/footage from the following countries: Zambia (Lead); Côte d’Ivoire; Nigeria; Kenya; Angola; Ghana (Innovation Poverty Action will provide footages for its variant of TaRL implemented in Ghana); and Botswana.

A draft outline is provided to guide the ideation process.

Script Development – Given the outline above, the selected Vendor will develop a script and agree on a storyboard and direction for the video clips. This is expected to guide the shoot angles and ensure the right messaging with a punchy call to action. ADEA, TaRL Africa and other partners will have the opportunity to modify the script to ensure that sensitivities and preferences are respected or adhered to.

Video shoot and photography – Footages will be shot in Zambia. However, the documentary will largely rely on existing footage shot in other countries. ADEA and TaRL Africa will provide access to existing footage to the selected vendor for assessment.

Where necessary, the Vendor will be required to plan for additional footage where none already exists. This may be the case for Angola, where the implementation of TaRL is still nascent. ADEA and TaRL Africa will provide access to policymakers and respondents where additional footage will be shot to ensure a smooth documentary process.

The Vendor is expected to give the videos as much originality as possible, ensuring the texts, videos and images present very strong messages and evoke the right responses. Where necessary, the selected videography company may need to capture drone shots of the respective scenes to enhance the overall feel, look and quality of the images.

Post-production – The selected Vendor is expected to bring together all available videos into a single, 20–25-minute documentary, with a 2-minute reel, to support publicity. Post-production will be based on the agreed final script. ADEA expects to have still graphics that feature pictures taken during the video shoot to ensure a good balance of video and still graphics. Please note that these will be two different materials. The right number of final videos and images with graphic designs are specified below.

Key Considerations

Secure consent forms – The Vendor is expected to secure consent from all respondents who appear in the new footage. It is believed that consent forms already exist for old videos. This is to ensure that we have the relevant copyrights to use the images and footage captured from the shoot for the purposes for which they were designed. Hence, any participant (Family, parent, or child) without a signed consent form should not be used to develop the final edit of the video. Participants must be informed that the images and video will be used solely for advocacy purposes and to promote the ideals of foundational learning.

Language – The documentary is targeted at audiences across Africa with a particular focus on Anglophone, Francophone, and Lusophone audiences. We will propose for there to be English, French, and Portuguese versions of the video. However, for screening purposes, we will be open to a video in English, with French and Portuguese subtitles where necessary. Where African languages feature, their English, French and Portuguese translations will be necessary.

Image and Video Quality – All pictures and videos are expected to be high-resolution images. Video shots should be done on 4K resolution, with crisp audio capture.

The video and images need to strike a balance between rural and urban settings, to ensure videos and images resonate with all classes of children and households.

Potential Interview Subjects

  • Teachers and principals at focus schools implementing TaRL, with shots of ongoing learning.
  • Students across age and skill levels.
  • TaRL trainers and coaches.
  • Staff and leadership from NGOs supporting the implementation of TaRL in Africa.
  • Education experts familiar with TaRL methodology.
  • Government education officials (local and national).
  • Parents of students in TaRL programs.

Shooting Locations

  • Rural and urban primary schools in countries across Africa implementing the TaRL methodology in different forms (to be agreed with VVoB and TaRL Africa).
  • Catch-up training centers.
  • Classrooms and community spaces in villages.
  • Relevant government offices.

Distribution Plan

  • Public presentation/screening at partner-select events.
  • Screening at ADEA, TaRL Africa IPA, VVoB and government educational conferences and events.
  • Pitching to relevant public television stations and online media.
  • Distributing educational screening licenses to schools/colleges.
  • Grassroots promotion through NGO partners.
  • ADEA, TaRL Africa and partner YouTube channels.

Final Output

  • A detailed script and run of show for the entire documentary and the short videos.
  • A 20 – 25-minute-long video showcasing the impact of the TaRL initiative on foundational learning and improving learning outcomes among pupils.
  • A shortened 5-minute summary version that will be used for advocacy purposes.
  • A trailer that provides a glimpse or previews the contents of the documentary. This is expected to be catch and enticing to create suspense and catch the interest of the audience for the main documentary.
  • Up to five (5) short videos that define the individual concepts that constitute the TaRL methodology, e.g. Child Centered Teaching Method, Learner Assessment, Class Facilitation, Structured Pedagogy etc.
  • Images and pictures from scenes of the video shoot.
  • Completed consent forms from those who were featured in the video.

Supervision and Communication

The planning, content development, scripting, and arrangement for the visit to the shooting sites will be coordinated by TaRL Africa and the ADEA Secretariat, working with the designated country focal persons and partners. This will include access to the country. The team will provide technical guidance and direction for all preparatory efforts. This includes a review of scripts and all preparatory documents leading to the shoot.


This documentary and photoshoot are expected to be completed within one month from the date of contracting. A further two weeks is envisaged for post-production before adjustments and corrections will commence. Our target is to deliver the entire project by September 15, 2024. Intending videography organizations are expected to review this timeline and reflect in their proposal with a realistic work plan to achieve the deliverables set out above. Otherwise, he is expected to propose a work plan to guide the process. Please note that this will be taken into consideration when reviewing the proposals. Vendors may be required to produce a short advocacy clip by August 5th, to support FL advocacy at the East Africa Community Education Conference, starting on August 12th.

Profile of Preferred Videography Company

These terms of reference (ToR) will be implemented by an organization with requisite qualifications, skills, and experiences in interpreting technical products into simple, understandable videos. The organization may have demonstrable experience in working and producing documentaries, content for television and YouTube or other online video-on-demand (VoD) platforms. They must have a demonstrable record in the production of commercial documentaries and photography, including experience in scripting for documentaries. The selection criteria will require you to show evidence of a Lead Specialist within the organization with the following profile:

  • An advanced degree in filmmaking, videography, graphic arts, humanities, or social sciences.
  • At least ten (10) years of experience in film/video production, videography, filmmaking, and animation.
  • Proven strong creative and conceptual skills in preparing content and video materials for audiences comprising policymakers, government and NGO implementers, funders, high net worth individuals, and corporations.
  • Strong experience with scripting for videos and commercial clips as well as short videos used for promotional purposes. Selected vendor must demonstrate strong copywriting skills.
  • Excellent communication skills including strong written and spoken English. A bilingual or multi-lingual capacity (English and French, English, and Portuguese, French and Portuguese) is an added advantage. Strong competence in the most spoken local dialect is also a solid plus.
  • Extensive experience in the use of design software and video editing software such as Adobe Suite, in-design, in-video and other related applications.
  • Strong stakeholder management experience, with awareness of prevailing cultural, religious, and social sensitivities of select target respondent communities.

Cross-Cutting Issues

In developing the video, scripts, and photography, the successful organization may want to consider the following:

  • Demonstrate equity and inclusivity in the final products of the campaign.
  • Produce social media-friendly content with the right nuances to attract and engage a young audience.
  • Please note that this video is targeted at a high-level audience, including global policy-makers and stakeholders in foundational learning.

For more information on this opportunity, please send email to

Consultant Selection Procedures

ADEA will share the ToR and invite vendors to submit their proposals. An application package should contain the following:

  • A cover letter/expression of interest.
  • Technical proposal including, approaches, proposed script, work plan and samples of previous project, and evidence of previous work across multiple countries in Africa. Previous experience working in Zambia is an important consideration.
  • A financial offer, to cover cost of filming and post-production in Zambia and up to two (2) additional countries and the use of old footages from other countries.

Your proposal should demonstrate:

  • Previous experience working in foundational learning or the education space in Africa. Previous documentaries or content focused on basic education and produced or co-produced by your organization should evidence this.
  • A solid grasp of the three official languages in use across Africa: English, French and Portuguese. Knowledge of local languages (Kiswahili, Lingala, Hausa, Twi, Akan etc. ) will be considered as well.

Submission of Applications

Applications must be sent to no later than Friday, 30th June 2024. The subject line of the email should be “Proposal for Learning Level Documentary.”

Due to the high volume of applications, only selected candidates will be contacted through formal correspondence via e-mail.