Event highlights current challenges and opportunities in global development

ACR GCD and awardees share key takeaways from Devex World 2022

Event highlights current challenges and opportunities in global development
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Former Afghanistan Deputy Minister of Interior Affairs Hosna Jalil at Devex World 2022

Former Afghanistan Deputy Minister of Interior Affairs Hosna Jalil urges development professionals to invest in digital education content and technology for girls in Afghanistan at Devex World 2022.

On July 12, All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development (ACR GCD) joined hundreds of thinkers, doers, changemakers and experts in-person–and hundreds more online–at Devex World 2022 in Washington, D.C. The high profile event on global development is held every two years.

The event featured a range of speakers and experts in a series of plenaries, workshops and Flash Talks, which highlighted the current challenges in global development as well as innovations and opportunities for transformation in development work. Below, we share a few key takeaways from the event:

  • These are challenging times in global development. Speakers like Bill Gates, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, former Afghanistan Deputy Minister of Interior Affairs Hosna Jalil and Open Society Foundations President Mark Malloch-Brown shared how the combined impacts of the pandemic, supply disruption, war in Europe, growing debt crisis and threats to democracy have even more clearly exposed inequities affecting the most marginalized and vulnerable populations in the world, especially regarding access to health care and education. We particularly resonated with how these threats are arriving on already uneven terrain in terms of children’s access to education.
  • We must continue to pull together. The need for increased strategic collaboration, partnerships, networking and information sharing in global development efforts was a recurring theme throughout the presentations and workshops. Opportunities abound from lessons learned through adapting to a global pandemic, which can strengthen global development efforts.
  • Innovation is more important than ever. Another recurring theme was the need for more innovation. We particularly resonated with calls for EdTech innovation to provide access to education for populations in low resource contexts, like girls in Afghanistan, and for working together to find ways to increase internet access. 
  • To be innovative, we need to support innovative work environments. As Rising Solutions’ Michelle Risinger put it during her Flash Talk, we need to design workplaces that support a culture of innovation and creativity. Most workplaces are designed for productivity, which can result in a disconnect with a company’s innovation aspirations. Incorporating time during the day to think creatively, get outdoors and let our minds rest are just a few steps we can take to foster a creative environment.
  • Our role is to empower others. Another recurring theme underscored that, as development professionals, our role is to empower local governments and local development organizations, educators and communities to innovate and be part of the solutions. Innovation needs to be created with local partners to be successful and sustainable. As Bush Institute Senior Fellow Dr. Deborah Birx put it, we need to keep our ears close to the ground and let communities speak for themselves–they know how to tackle development challenges  to build more resilient communities.
  • We must empower others to tell their stories. We need to do more listening and provide platforms and opportunities for individuals and communities to tell their own stories and narratives.  This can be done by  providing space on our own platforms and providing tools to create their own platforms and content through methods like mobile journalism and social media campaigns. 
ACR GCD Chief of Party Sergio Ramirez-Mena interviews SIL LEAD Senior Advisor Paul Frank at Devex World 2022

ACR GCD Chief of Party Sergio Ramirez-Mena (left) interviews SIL LEAD Senior Advisor Paul Frank at Devex World 2022

In addition to great presentations and speakers, the event also gave us the opportunity to share a booth with ACR GCD founding partner World Vision and catch up with awardees also attending the event: 

  • Sesame Workshop. During the From Storytelling to Movement session, President Sherrie Westin shared how creating localized characters and stories that children can identify with can increase reading skills and learning. “The needs are the same regardless of geography, but the context is very different.” Learn more about Sesame Workshop’s ACR GCD EdTech innovations to promote mother language literacy skills and help children improve their oral reading fluency.
  • Benetech. In a video interview with ACR GCD, Chief Executive Office Ayan Kishore shared how collaborations have helped expand their work into India. (Watch an excerpt on Twitter and visit our YouTube page, where will soon be posting the full interview!) Learn more about Benetech’s ACR GCD project to add Marathi human-narrated audio capabilities to create accessible, grade-level storybooks that can be listened to on low cost audio devices by children who are blind/low vision.
  • SIL LEAD. In another ACR GCD video interview, Senior Advisor Paul Frank talked about learning loss and the power of content in underserved languages. (Watch an excerpt on Twitter and visit our YouTube page, where will soon be posting the full interview!) Learn about SIL LEAD’s ACR GCD projects to enhance their Bloom software with accessibility features and their creation of 420 accessible books in two Malian languages and in Malian Sign Language.

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Collaborate with us to be part of the solution for the more than 584 million children globally waiting for the opportunity to learn to read. Explore our solutions and tools to help you increase literacy opportunities in local languages for marginalized children in your work and programming. Partner with us to pilot or scale a solution or innovation in your community or region. Together, we can advance EdTech solutions to improve reading outcomes for marginalized children in low resource contexts and developing countries around the world.


All Children Reading is a partnership between USAID, World Vision and the Australian Government.