You are here: HomeNews2019 10 20Article 791364

General News of Sunday, 20 October 2019


87% of 10-year-olds in Sub Saharan Africa can’t read and understand a simple story - World Bank

The World Bank has indicated that about 87% of children in Sub Sahara Africa cannot read and understand a simple story at the age of 10.

It has described the situation as a global learning crisis, adding that many children were in school but were lacking quality education.

The World Bank Acting Country Manager, Dr Beatrix Allah-Mensah, disclosed this at the International Day for Eradication of Poverty-End Poverty Day (EPD) 2019 held at the World Bank office in Accra yesterday on the theme “Ending Learning Poverty: What will it Take”.

“Since reading is one important gateway skill, all children should be able to read in order to develop more complex foundational cognitive and socio-emotional skills as they grow up,” she added.

She said despite substantial progress in education across the continents, significant gaps in education investments were leaving many unprepared for an uncertain world with a fast-changing nature of jobs.

The Acting Country Manager said 53% of children in low and middle income countries in late primary age cannot read and understand a simple story.

She added that the high rate of poverty and slow progress in low- and middle-income countries was an early warning sign that global education goals were at risk; indicating that failing to address the situation would only result in wasted potential among the youth and negatively impact a country’s future workforce and economic competitiveness.

The World Bank is therefore seeking to reduce at least half the share of children who cannot read and understand a simple story at age 10 by 2030 by setting a new learning target to sharpen support for quality primary education.

The learning target focuses on reading because it is the foundation upon which other learning skills are built such as science, numeracy among others.

As part of the World Bank’s efforts to support countries including Ghana to address the crisis and achieve the new learning target, the Bank is putting together a literacy policy package consisting of interventions focused specifically on promoting acquisition of reading proficiency in primary school.

The Bank is also supporting countries with a refreshed education approach to strengthen entire education systems so that literary improvements can be sustained and scaled up.

Additionally, it would also be supporting with an ambitious measurement and research agenda covering measurement of both learning outcomes and their drivers.

Speaking at the event, the Deputy Minister of Education, Gifty Twum Ampofo said Ghana’s strides in ensuring primary enrollment has improved to a large extent, with Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE) guaranteed by constitution.

She said policies such as the Capitation Grant and School Feeding Programme further enhanced primary enrollment.

She admitted that challenges still remain with quality in terms of reading and writing and that there was the need to do more, adding that it was for that reason that primary school curriculum was reviewed to improve literacy and numeracy.

She was confident that the new curriculum would bring the result needed.

The Deputy Minister noted that Ghana remains committed to education as crucial in poverty elimination.

“In 21st century global dynamics, it is important for nations to join hands in a concerted effort to eliminate learning poverty as a means to eliminating or reducing global poverty to the minimum”, she added.

Participants at the event called for a national agenda to support the ending of learning poverty in the country and collaboration among stakeholders.

Educationists present at the event called on parents to create libraries at home for their wards and encourage them to be active readers.