ACR GCD focuses on equitable education at CIES 2023

ACR GCD participated in various sessions and panels that addressed the global "book gap" and promoted inclusive education 

ACR GCD focuses on equitable education at CIES 2023

All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development (ACR GCD) actively participated in the Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) 2023 conference held from February 18-22, which focused on “Improving Education for a More Equitable World.” ACR GCD facilitated two sessions, joined a third panel, supported awardees and partners during their presentations, and hosted a booth in the exhibit hall to interact with and showcase our solutions to attendees.

On February 19, ACR GCD participated in the panel “Every child deserves books: How the Global Book Alliance gets books into children’s hands.” The panel tackled the global “book gap”—the lack of basic textbooks, reading and learning materials—that affects over 330 million children in low- and lower-middle-income countries. Key learnings and challenges discussed included improving book supply chains, developing engaging and contextualized children’s content, involving illustrators and graphic designers, using open licenses and the extensive planning required for book production. Recommendations to improve access to quality books were also shared, such as strengthening national publishers’ associations, promoting demand for children’s books, versioning books in additional languages, advocating for open-source content and providing training on children’s book development.

ACR GCD’s ongoing collaboration with the Global Book Alliance resulted in the successful Begin with Books prize competition, generating over 2,000 books on the Global Digital Library and multiple other platforms to increase the availability of books in underserved languages. The session highlighted the importance of developing books locally and sourcing printing services in the global market and catering to underserved languages with the highest quality and lowest cost possible.

During the February 19 session “How has an EdTech innovation fund supported innovators to promote reading for children? What lies ahead?” panelists discussed ACR GCD’s main goals of advancing EdTech innovation and research to increase reading outcomes, including improving access to early-grade reading materials among marginalized and underserved populations, particularly children with disabilities. The panel also reviewed the progress made in expanding the community of implementers and identifying scalable solutions.

Key learnings highlighted in the session included creating more teaching and learning materials in local language, especially for local sign languages, highlighting the challenge of integrating digital with traditional printed books in schools, and emphasizing the importance of working with caregivers, such as teachers, parents and mentors to support children’s reading.

On February 20, the panel “Equity in assessments: How to design appropriate learning assessments to ensure greater inclusion of children with disabilities” emphasized 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..

The panel—which included Aimee Reeves of the Girls Education Challenge (GEC), Anne M Hayes of Inclusive Development Partners (IDP), Josh Josa of USAID, Purna Kumar Shrestha of Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO), and Michelle Oetman and Shelly Hartman Sunyak representing ACR GCD—all contributed to the upcoming technical brief of the same title published by ACR GCD and the Girls’ Education Challenge Fund Manager, funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).  The panelists shared key insights, lessons learned, and next step recommendations to address barriers hindering equitable participation in learning assessments from the donor, researcher and implementer perspective. Hayes also highlighted the upcoming  Toolkit on Universal Design for Assessment (UDA), created by IDP with the support of the World Bank.

The upcoming technical brief seeks to provide valuable guidance for stakeholders aiming to make assessments more inclusive of children with disabilities and to measure their learning outcomes more validly and reliably. Watch this space for more information on the release of the technical brief, or sign up for the ACR GCD newsletter at the bottom of this page.

Throughout the conference, ACR GCD awardees and partners participated in various panels and discussions on topics such as literacy development, sign language storybook production, and screening children for disabilities. Learn more about these panels.

ACR GCD also hosted a booth, allowing attendees to experience free, open-source digital resources and tools designed to increase reading outcomes and access to education for children worldwide, including those in low-resource contexts and with disabilities. Explore and access these solutions on the ACR GCD Solutions Hub.

All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development is a partnership between USAID, World Vision and the Australian Government.