Early Grade Reading
Reading is the foundation of learning. Ensuring that children can read in early grades will determine their future educational success.
In Mali, a boy in primary school learns to read.
If all students in low income countries left school with basic reading skills 171 million people could be lifted out of poverty. This is equal to a 12% cut in global poverty. (EFA Global Monitoring Report. UNESCO)
An estimated 250 million children who attend primary school in developing countries are struggling to read even basic words. Over the last two decades, national education policies and international aid for education have mainly focused on improving access to primary school and completion rates. Progress has been steady on these two indicators, but the focus now has to shift to ensuring that children who attend school actually learn.
Children who fail to read in the early grades will fall further behind each school year, when the reading ability is progressively used as a tool for acquiring other types of knowledge. Poorly performing students struggle to catch up and some of them simply drop out of school.
GPE partners have put learning to read at the forefront of their priorities. The third objective of GPE's Strategic Plan is:
"Dramatic increase in the number of children learning and demonstrating mastery of basic literacy and numeracy skills by grade 3."
Breaking the illiteracy trap requires early intervention and early grade reading in particular is a powerful tool to achieve later educational success. To make reading a reality for millions of children, the Global Partnerships has set up ambitious goals:
Over the past several years, promising interventions to improve reading have been carried out in ten countries, with significantly improved reading outcomes achieved over a large number of schools. Several vanguard countries, including the Gambia and Nicaragua are already rolling out programs at the national level.
Mobilizing our partners
At its 2011 Pledging Conference, the Global Partnership of Education pledged to improve quality education and learning outcomes for all children. This can be achieved with the strong commitment of all our partners, especially developing countries, through:
Several regional workshops have been organized to galvanize efforts around early grade reading.