Can numeracy development be fun and entertaining? Learning with Akili and Me


This is one in a series of four articles exploring the use of early childhood development messages in children’s television programming.

Ubongo Meets IDELA

IDELA is an easy-to-use, rigorous and adaptable measurement tool that can be used in different national and cultural contexts to assess children’s early learning and development. Ubongo, a Pan-African social enterprise aimed at significantly improving school readiness and learning outcomes for kids through localized edutainment, found an opportunity to use IDELA as a response to the challenges faced by children between the ages of three to six when entering primary school for the first time.

Ubongo promotes quality early learning opportunities through engaging and fun cartoons to educate and entertain children. Using IDELA, Ubongo developed and tested 52 episodes of a new television series called Akili and Me.

Why Is Numeracy Development Important In Early Childhood Development?

Prior to school entry, many children gain basic numeracy skills and concepts through everyday activities from learning to detect differences between quantities of objects – for example, a container with two blocks vs. a container with three blocks – to learning numbers and beginning to count from 1 to 10 (Bisanz, 2011). Children enter school with a wide range of skills within this domain. Since a child’s informal understanding of numbers when they enter school strongly predicts their math competence and achievement in later school years, it is important for parents, caregivers and early childhood educators to foster an understanding of early numeracy development (Reid, 2016).

Learning Numeracy Through Cartoons and Media

IDELA uses a number of different assessment tasks to measure numeracy, including classification/sorting, number and shape identification, simple operations, and puzzle completion. Akili and Me offers several fun and educational videos that help children develop their skills within this domain. For example, videos like “Meet the Number 10” and “Counting Mangoes with Akili” introduce children to numbers and encourage them to learn how to count. “Short Long Song” helps children identify and compare the difference between a variety of short and long objects, and “Akili and the Shape Train” introduces various shapes. The show offers several other videos for learning about numeracy and has grown to reach a monthly audience of 8.2 million viewers in Tanzania and across Africa.

To learn more about Akili and Me’s impact on child participants, click here


Bisanz, J. (2011, May). Numeracy: Introduction. Retrieved from

Reid, K. (2016, July 20). Preschoolers and numeracy development. Retrieved from