An estimated 250 million children who attend primary school in developing countries are struggling to read even basic words. Over the last two decades, national education policies and international aid for education have mainly focused on improving access to primary school and completion rates. Progress has been steady on these two indicators, but the focus now has to shift to ensuring that children who attend school actually learn.
Children who fail to read in the early grades will fall further behind each school year, when the reading ability is progressively used as a tool for acquiring other types of knowledge. Poorly performing students struggle to catch up and some of them simply drop out of school.