chapter  9
Literacy and development
ByLesley Bartlett, Julia Frazier
Pages 10

As steady gains were made toward the Education for All (EFA) goal to provide universal access to primary education by 2015, a consensus quickly formed around a focus on early grade literacy as a way to address quality. At that time, USAID invested significant funds to develop the Early Grade Reading Assessment, or EGRA. In 2011, as part of their Education Strategy, USAID announced an audacious goal: “improved reading skills for 100 million children in primary grades by 2015”. Other donors have joined them in this focus. USAID, World Vision, and AusAID launched the multiyear initiative, “All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development,” which includes a multidonor grant-making mechanism for innovative projects. By 2008, a ‘reading consensus’ was emerging among various institutions, including the Global Partnership for Education, USAID, DFID, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, that early grade reading was the primary way to address educational quality. When millions of dollars began suddenly flowing into early grade literacy programmes, EGRA exerted a definite and, in the opinion of some, disproportionate influence over the shape those programmes took.