CUP – Catchup Project funded by World Vision

PI Dr Ale Okada, Co-I Dr Margaret Ebubedike,
Members: Dr Keetie Roelen, Claire Hudges
Expert Advisors:  Prof Kwame Akyeampong (internal),
Prof Peter Gray (External)


World Vision initiated the Catch-Up Programme (CUP) in response to COVID-19 education disruption.

CUP focuses on acquisition of early grade literacy and numeracy skills in vulnerable communities.

It is designed to provide safe, play-based, inclusive and carefully sequenced instruction at the right level that also addresses social emotional learning of children.
The three key actions of CUP project are:

  1. Mobilizes communities to support children’s learning.
  2. Supports the well-being of community facilitators.
  3. Forges partnerships with schools and teachers to provide holistic support.
CUP is helping to bridge the gap in learning 
created by COVID Headteacher in Zimbabwe

Preliminary Results 2021-2022

UP pilot was developed by World Vision in three countries: Cambodia, Ghana, and Zimbabwe. 

Exploratory research indicated that all field offices expressed interest in continuing to use the resources and evaluation tools.

Key results include: 

  1. Positive experiences of informal learning at community level.
  2. Community capacity  was enhanced. 
  3. Most Children gained literacy skills and confidence.

Next Steps – Methodological Approach 2023-2024

CUPs will be implemented in new countries: Chile, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe

The Open University  will support World Vision through  mixed methods research to explore the  effectiveness, relevance and adaptation of the CUP programme.

Responsible Research and Innovation aims  to strengthen evidence for CUP in real- world implementation contexts for further adaptations and scale.

Dr Okada also developed a new Social Emotional Learning  Instrument – SEL.

This self-reflective instrument was translated and adapted to various countries.

The Open University UK

Dr Alexandra Okada  is a senior research fellow in the UK and associate professor vistor in Brazil. She brings 20+ years’ experience of leading complex at-scale research and development programmes in Education. She has coordinated more than 10 international multi-language and multi-actor projects (€15M in total). Her expertise includes: large scale research projects: design, implementation, evaluation, dissemination, including multiapproaches, mixedmethods and longitudinal studies underpinned by responsible research and innovation – ethics, gender, open access, education, governance and public engagement.

Dr Margaret Ebubedike has over 15 years’ experience of teaching, training, and educational research in low-income contexts. Her research focuses on girls’ access, retention and completing education, gender equality and development across cultures and contexts, especially conflict affected areas. Her expertise focused on qualitative studies, focus groups, interviews, and photovoice; bringing together researchers, communities and children. Most recently Margaret is leading research to support the empowerment of girl victims of human trafficking in Nigeria and Nepal.

Dr Keetie Roelen is Senior Research Fellow in The Open University’s Centre for the Study of Global Development (CSGD). She is a development economist by training and current research interests include the dynamics of (child) poverty, social protection and the linkages between child protection and social protection. She has delivered qualitative and quantitative research including longitudinal studies, programme evaluations and policy advice for various organisations such as UNICEF, World Bank, FAO and Concern Worldwide, across South-East Asia, Africa and Europe.