On Friday, November 18, 2011, USAID and World Vision will launch All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development.
The launch of this Grand Challenge comes at an opportune time. Just one week ago the international community pledged support for taking steps to ensure millions of children in primary school are able to read at the Global Partnership for Education Replenishment Event. Additionally, the Global Partnership for Education placed literacy at the forefront of its Education Strategy; committing to reduce the number of grade 2 children who cannot read by 50 per cent in 20 countries over five years, as well as provide 50 million new textbooks in classrooms.
Other donor partners such as USAID, AusAID, and DFID have pledged the following:
• USAID: Improved reading skills for 100 million children in primary grades by 2015
• AusAID: Increased attention to early grade literacy practices
• DFID: Support for early grade reading (EGR) in 10 countries and the collection of data on EGR in 23 countries to generate evidence of “what works” to improve reading standards
The ability to read is not only the most basic aspect of knowledge, but determines further learning and has become a key indicator in assessing the quality of education children receive at the primary school level. With approximately 200 million children in primary school struggling to read basic words, a renewed focus has been placed on making learning a reality for all children, with literacy at the forefront of this campaign. Ensuring that all children acquire the knowledge and skills needed to live healthy, productive lives is a core value of education policy development worldwide.
The All Children Reading: Grand Challenge provides a unique opportunity for businesses, social enterprises, entrepreneurs, non-profits, academic institutions, and other organizations from around the world to pursue and submit innovative ideas, practices, products, or programs for improving student reading in primary grades. The wining submissions will receive resources for scaling up.
The purpose of the Grand Challenge is to encourage new or innovative approaches to helping millions of children in developing countries learn to read. A possible example of an innovative program which could be scaled up is with the Khan Academy. The Khan Academy was recently lauded for its 2,400 free video lessons which can be watched over the web by anyone (For more information about the Academy, please see the recent post by my colleague Deepa Srikantaiah). While the resources offered by the Khan Academy are great; if a child does not have access to the web, they cannot access the videos.
One tool that could help overcome this obstacle is the $35 USD Android tablet recently designed by the Indian Government. Considering the tablet’s size, portability, and ease of use, it could potentially provide thousands of children with access to videos or other content specifically designed to work on the tablets. Such an innovative combination of available tools and resources could offer learning resources to thousands of children worldwide, potentially and profoundly changing the number of children reading worldwide.
The Global Partnership applauds USAID’s decision to launch All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development. Programs such as the Grand Challenge help us identify and use the innovative and effective tools that will ultimately help the Global Partnership for Education achieve its recent commitment to reduce the number of grade 2 children who cannot read by 50 per cent in 20 countries over five years, as well as provide 50 million new textbooks in classrooms.
Click read more about USAID’s All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development.
Click to read more about Global Partnership for Education Replenishment Event.