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Why Reading?

Reading is the foundation of lifelong learning and essential for success. By not paying explicit attention to the improvement of early grade reading outcomes, we increase the risk that children will continue to live in poverty and limit the future they deserve.

Importance of Early Grade Reading

Learning to read at an early age is a fundamental skill for higher learning at all grade levels and in all subject areas.  Research evidence shows that, in addition to being a key indicator of future educational achievement, effective reading contributes to economic productivity and an individual’s full participation in modern society.  Children who do not learn to read in the early grades fall further behind each year, curtailing their future educational and economic opportunities.  If all students in developing countries acquired basic reading skills, 171 million people could be lifted out of poverty. (EFA GMR 2010/2011, UNESCO)

Early grade reading matters because the futures of children matter.


An estimated 387 million children, 258 million of whom have spent at least four years in school, are not learning foundational reading skills.  

(EFA GMR 2013/2014, UNESCO)

Long Term Impacts

  1. Eradication of Poverty: 171 million people could be lifted out of poverty if all students in low-income countries left school with basic reading skills, reducing world poverty by 12%. (EFA GMR 2010/2011, UNESCO)
  2. Economic Growth: An extra year of school increases an individual's earnings by 10% and the average annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth by 0.37%. (EFA GMR 2010/2011, UNESCO)
  3. Improved Quality of Life: People who can read enjoy better health, earn more money, participate in more stable democracies, and serve their communities more effectively. (All Children Reading Challenge Grant 2012 Innovators Brochure)

Sara Ruto on the Importance of Reading

Dr. Sara Ruto, Regional Manager of Uwezo East Africa, discusses why the global community must focus on improving reading skills at the primary grade levels.

Sara Ruto on the Importance of Reading