Comparative & International Education Society (CIES) 2023

Join ACR GCD our panels and presentations and visit our booth, where you can get hands-on-experience with free EdTech solutions, like digital libraries, learning games and apps and more!

Comparative & International Education Society (CIES) 2023

ACR GCD is excited to participate in CIES 2023! Our team will be facilitating two sessions, participating on a panel in a third, and hosting a booth in the Constitutional Ballroom. Our sessions and presentations align with the theme of this year’s conference: Improving Education for a More Equitable Worldand at our booth, you can get hands-on experience with free, open source digital resources and tools that have demonstrated the ability to increase reading outcomes and access to education for children all over the world, including children in low-resource contexts and children with disabilities. Learn more below!

Cell phone with Feed the Monster learning game

Try or download Feed the Monster, a literacy learning app available in more than 50 languages, including Ukrainian.

Saturday – Wednesday, February 18 – 22
ACR GCD Booth: Be Part of the Solution!
Constitution Ballroom | Constitution Level

Stop by our booth in the Constitution Ballroom (just off the foyer on the Constitution Level) and learn about dozens of free EdTech solutions, including digital libraries, learning games and apps, book creation platforms, and more! Try an ACR GCD-funded solution at our booth or download one on your device and you can enter a raffle to win a $50 Amazon gift card! Many of these open source and accessible solutions can be adapted, scaled and implemented in programs and regions all over the world. We will also have information about additional tools and resources as well as ideas on how to expand use in low resource settings, in and outside of school, and in crisis contexts. (To access the Constitution Level, take the escalators just outside the Grand Foyer on the Declaration Level up to the Constitution Level. See a floor plan.)

Sunday, February 19
Every child deserves books: How the Global Book Alliance gets books into children’s hands | 8 – 9:30 a.m. (Eastern)

Children can’t learn to read without access to books or reading materials to support them on their learning journey. Literacy 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. For the more than 93 million children living with disabilities globally, learning outcomes are even lower as they are less likely to go to school and be provided with appropriate learning resources. Having the opportunity to engage with books is known to boost a child’s literacy potential and despite the importance of books in learning to read, there is a global shortage of books for children in many underserved languages especially in accessible formats. This is the challenge known as the “book gap.”

As a panelist, Chief of Party Sergio Ramirez Mena will talk about how, to address this challenge, ACR GCD in collaboration with the Global Book Alliance (GBA) launched in 2020 the Begin with Books prize competition challenging innovators globally to assemble cost-effective packages of high quality, accessible digital books for beginning readers in more than 30 designated underserved languages both (spoken and signed) such as Malian Mamara, Nepali Tamang, Malawian Tumbuka language and others used in more than 15 countries. As part of the prize competition, solvers are required to upload the books they develop to the Global Digital Library (GDL), a mobile and web platform offering a collection of high quality, open educational early grade reading resources in languages that children and their communities globally use and understand. The platform also facilitates translation and localization of GDL resources to more than 300 languages and growing.

Ramirez Mena will provide a retrospective view of the lessons learned from our work with awardees in Nepal, Mali, Malawi and Pacific Island about the production of high-quality digital storybooks, especially production of visual and audio content for deaf or blind children. The challenge of reaching the minimum standards for production of digital books in both written and local sign languages taking into account that most of these languages are fast evolving their own vocabulary and signs linked to their own context. Beyond completing the production and upload of the digital content, the next level is reaching the intended audiences: finding channels for the use of these digital content in remote and marginalized communities. The presentation will conclude with key recommendations based on field data about how to enable effective and greater use of these materials through existing education programs.

Organizations represented on the panel in addition to ACR GCD include Room to Read, EDC/GBAIA and Norad/Global Digital Library.

Sunday, February 19
How has an EdTech innovation fund supported innovators to promote reading for children? What lies ahead? | 2:45 – 4:15 p.m. (Eastern)

ACR GCD has been investing in reading, with a specific mandate to support greater access to quality reading materials, promote inclusion leveraging technology so that all children read – especially those with disabilities where more than 90% of these children do not attend school regularly. ACR has invested over $25M through a partnership of the Australian Government, USAID, and World Vision US. The grand challenge promotes new ideas through competitions, prizes and research to support EdTech for reading using high-quality and accessible content. Currently, All Children Reading is in its third round of investments focused on three core areas: provide digital books in underserved languages including local sign language, support solutions for children with disabilities at scale, and test new methodologies to promote foundational literacy with preschool children, including those who are deaf.

The panel will bring together contrasting perspectives on how a leading EdTech innovation fund – like All Children Reading – brings together government funders, social entrepreneurs, application developers, and reading experts to the table to foster new solutions or scale those that prove to be most useful to support literacy in for the most marginalized in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Two presentations will include fresh testimonies from key innovators supported through the life of the challenge to increase and expand their solutions. They will explain how this innovation fund provided them with the momentum to improve their platform and scale their solutions. The next presentation will elaborate on the lessons learned from the funding agency’s experience with this grand challenge to spur new solutions. The final presentation will reflect on learning agenda, impact, and lessons learned from the second and third rounds of funding through ACR. The panel will reflect on the past 10 years of legacy promoting EdTech in low-resource environments to bring digital content to more children. The presenters will identify challenges but more importantly opportunities to expand Edtech leveraging the synergies between funders, solvers, and implementers to scale applications, games and reading resources.


  • Mark Lynd, School-to-School International
  • Ayan Kishore, Benetech
  • Paul Frank, SIL
  • Meredith Perry, USAID

Monday, February 20
Equity in assessments: How to design appropriate learning assessments to ensure greater inclusion of children with disabilities | 2:45 – 4:15 p.m. (Eastern)

The Girls’ Education Challenge (GEC) Fund Manager (FM), funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), and ACR GCD collaboratively developed a technical brief that captures the importance of, progress towards, and lessons learned from the development of inclusive learning assessments for children. In this panel, contributors to the technical brief will share key insights, lessons learned, and next step recommendations from the donor, researcher and implementer perspective. Attendees of the panel will learn why including children with disabilities in learning assessments is imperative, how to take concrete actions towards inclusion, and how including children with disabilities in learning assessments can benefit project implementation. This panel will also highlight the Toolkit on Universal Design for Assessment (UDA), created by Inclusive Development Partners (IDP) with the support of the World Bank.


  • Michelle Oetman, Senior Program Manager, Events & Convenings, ACR GCD


  • Joshua Josa, Inclusive Education Specialist, USAID


  • Michelle Hartman Sunyak, Senior Program Manager, World Vision
  • Aimee Reeves, Evaluation Lead, Girls’ Education Challenge
  • Ashley Doria, Sr. Strategic Partnership Lead, VSO
  • Anne M Hayes, Executive Director, Inclusive Development Partners