November 5, 2021
This week, USAID marked 60 years as one of the world’s leaders in international development, and All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development (ACR GCD) is taking the opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments and innovations achieved over our 10 year partnership.
USAID has a long-standing history and reputation of partnering individuals, communities, governing institutions and organizations around the world to address challenges and make progress towards a world where everyone can live with dignity and reach their full potential. Launched in 2011 through a partnership between USAID, World Vision and the Australian Government, ACR GCD is one of the earliest and longest running of the 10 grand challenges for development that mobilize governments and public and private partners to solve development problems, offering challenge grants, prizes and tools to solve problems.
Reading is the foundational skill for a child to learn and succeed in school, but access to adequate textbooks, storybooks and other learning materials remains a challenge. ACR GDC believes education technology (EdTech) innovation and approaches can address gaps and barriers for children to have access to reading in school. When applied appropriately, EdTech can advance child literacy around the globe and serves as an effective supplement learning of children who lack access to school, like those living in countries with high levels of poverty, and allows reading to continue in and outside the school.
Over the past 10 years, ACR GCD has distributed over 1.7 million learning materials, including more than 1 million books in 50+ underserved languages and materials in sign languages and braille, improving literacy outcomes for children in low resource contexts around the world. We have grown to be one of the largest innovation funds focused on reading for children with disabilities, with more than $4.5 million invested in inclusive education.
This week, we celebrate by highlighting some of these materials, accomplishments and innovations that are making a difference in advancing foundational literacy, increasing access to materials in underserved languages and providing solutions for children with disabilities.
Foundations for literacy
- Smartphone apps like Feed the Monster and Antura & the Letters, which build foundational literacy skills in Arabic and improve psychosocial well-being for Syrian children who are out of school or struggling in school, installed on more than 100,000 devices
- Translation of Feed the Monster app into 45+ languages
- User Guides for Evoke: Leaders for Literacy, which provides a facilitator handbook, resources, online community management and a mentor quick guide around utilizing Andre’s Story, an engaging short story which introduces youth to the challenge of illiteracy
Books in underserved languages
- Advancement of digital resources to address book chain gaps, like Track and Trace software
- Supporting the growth of the Global Digital Library, a collection of high quality library and classroom books available on the web, mobile and for print with a CC license.
- Supporting the development of Bloom software, which creates simple accessible books that can be translated into multiple languages
- The creation of 100 levelled, accessible ebooks with engaging STEM themes, including stories that feature girls who are space travelers or have their very own robot, available on the Asafeer App as well as the GDL and Bloom libraries
Enhancing literacy learning for children with disabilities
- Technology that opens literacy opportunities for Moroccan children who are deaf/hard of hearing
- A ground-breaking Early Grade Reading Assessment for children with sensory disabilities
- A smartphone app and literacy program to expand access to Nicaraguan Sign Language
- The world’s largest collection of human-narrated storybooks in the underserved language of Marathi that can be listened to by children who are blind/low vision
- An open-content digital library including sign language translations of folk tales
- A Kenyan Sign Language studio producing accessible early grade reading materials in KSL, a library of open source, accessible digital titles including titles in KSL, and a toolkit for publishers to use when creating accessible EPUBs with image descriptions, accessible navigations, dyslexia friendly fonts and optional sign language videos
These are just a few of the many solutions and materials developed by ACR GCD innovators in the last 10 years. You can read about their impact in more than 40 robust external evaluations, which include scalability recommendations, in our Research and Resources section of the website.