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, more than 90 percent of primary-age children in low-income countries and 75 percent of children in lower-middle income countries – more than 330 million children – are not expected to read or do basic maths by the end of primary school.1

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.

1 UNESCO Institute for Statistics. (2017). More Than One-Half of Children and Adolescents Are Not Learning Worldwide. Fact Sheet. Paris: UNESCO. Available from: [Accessed 26 January 2018].

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