February 9, 2021
In Malawi, 6-year-old Alinafe is proof that investment in early childhood education makes a difference. She’s among the nearly 40 percent of children in the country enrolled in pre-primary education who are on track in early literacy and numeracy skills. Of children in Malawi not enrolled in pre-primary programs, only 4 percent are on track on these foundational skills, according to data from UNICEF.
Recognizing that many of the barriers to early reading skills development can be mitigated through the use of individualized learning technology, All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development today launched the Ready2Read Challenge, seeking context-appropriate and effective EdTech solutions that help marginalized children in low-resource countries build foundational language and literacy skills at home and at school.
“Pre-primary education, whether it is provided in schools, homes, or other venues, is important to prepare children for success in primary school and beyond,” said LeAnna Marr, acting deputy assistant administrator of the Bureau for Development, Democracy and Innovation at USAID, an ACR GCD Founding Partner. “USAID is proud to be a partner in the All Children Reading Grand Challenge and support Ready2Read.”
Despite several decades of focusing on improving access to quality education for all children, learning outcomes continue to remain low, with fewer than half of the world’s school-aged children learning to read on grade level or gaining basic numeracy skills, according to the World Bank.
As more than 85 percent of a child’s brain is developed by age 6, a growing body of evidence suggests investing in high-quality pre-primary education—providing young children with the foundational skills needed to support grade-level learning—is vital to addressing the global learning crisis. Yet globally, more than 175 million children are not enrolled in pre-primary education, a challenge compounded by shutdowns of early education facilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Ready2Read Challenge calls on global solvers to propose existing or adapted EdTech solutions and activities that enable parents, caregivers, and early childhood education (ECE) facilitators to progressively build and measure foundational literacy skills in children ages 4 to 6.
“In addition to being a child’s first teacher and protector, parents and caregivers are the cornerstones of any quality learning intervention in early childhood, with community members, including early childhood education facilitators, also playing a key role,” said Kerin Ord, global sector education lead at World Vision, an ACR GCD Founding Partner. “The experiences within the first and immediate ecosystems of nurture, care, and support lay the foundation for future lifelong learning and wellbeing.”
Solvers can win up to $350,000 for proposals that meet the Ready2Read Challenge requirements, with additional incentive money available to awardees whose solutions demonstrate foundational skills growth in children.
ACR GCD will prioritize EdTech solutions proposed for implementation in the following countries/contexts: Bangladesh, Indonesia, Laos, Malawi, Nepal, Papua New Guinea (PNG) and the Pacific Islands, the Philippines, Somalia, the Syrian context (Syria, Jordan and Lebanon), and Zambia. While solutions that have already been implemented in these contexts are preferred, solvers can also propose solutions tested in similar contexts that can be adapted.
Solutions should seek to target key foundational language and literacy skills, including alphabetic knowledge, phonological awareness, expressive vocabulary, and listening comprehension. Solutions should also support parents, caregivers, teachers and/or facilitators with resources and tools to assist in filling gaps in early learning among children, especially due to COVID-19.
Solvers are also required to propose an implementation plan of how their EdTech solution can be used in ways that do not exacerbate the digital divide but can bridge barriers and gaps in support, especially for the most vulnerable children.
“By leveraging the power of EdTech to complement existing investments in pre-primary education, or filling gaps where investment is limited, we can enable the most marginalized children around the world to be set up for success in school, even amid COVID-19 or other crises,” said a spokesperson for the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade, an ACR GCD Founding Partner. “These investments in early learning are critical in securing a future in which every child can read.”
Together, let’s equip parents, caregivers and ECE facilitators with EdTech solutions to support literacy and learning to help children thrive.
Join the Ready2Read Challenge!