Young cambodian children sitting at school desks

© 2012 Sopheak Kong/World Vision

Literacy unlocks human potential and is the cornerstone of development. It leads to better health, broadens employment opportunities, and creates safer and more stable societies. However, a 2013/2014 UNESCO report indicates that 250 million children across the globe are not learning basic literacy and numeracy skills. Of these, 57 million children—a disproportionate number of whom are from disadvantaged backgrounds, live in conflict-afflicted countries, are disabled, or are girls—aren’t enrolled in school at all.

Children who do not develop reading skills during early primary education are on a lifetime trajectory of limited educational progress and, therefore, limited economic opportunities. Early grade reading competency is critical for continued retention and success in future grades and the educational achievement of a country’s population is directly correlated with its economic growth rate. UNESCO further reports that an increase in the average educational attainment of a country’s population by one year increases annual per capita GDP growth from 2 percent to 2.5 percent.

Launched in 2011 by the US Agency for International DevelopmentWorld Vision and the Australian Government, All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development is an on-going series of competitions that leverages science and technology to create and apply scalable solutions to improve literacy skills of early grade learners in developing countries.

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