Learning Poverty:, Historical data and sub-components

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Will all children be able to read by 2030? The ability to read with comprehension is a foundational skill that every education system around the world strives to impart by late in primary school—generally by age 10. Moreover, attaining the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in education requires first achieving this basic building block, and so does improving countries’ Human Capital Index scores. Yet past evidence from many low- and middle-income countries has shown that many children are not learning to read with comprehension in primary school. To understand the global picture better, we have worked with the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) to assemble a new dataset with the most comprehensive measures of this foundational skill yet developed, by linking together data from credible cross-national and national assessments of reading. This dataset covers 115 countries, accounting for 81% of children worldwide and 79% of children in low- and middle-income countries. The new data allow us to estimate the reading proficiency of late-primary-age children, and we also provide what are among the first estimates (and the most comprehensive, for low- and middle-income countries) of the historical rate of progress in improving reading proficiency globally (for the 2000-17 period). The results show that 53% of all children in low- and middle-income countries cannot read age-appropriate material by age 10, and that at current rates of improvement, this “learning poverty” rate will have fallen only to 43% by 2030. Indeed, we find that the goal of all children reading by 2030 will be attainable only with historically unprecedented progress. The high rate of “learning poverty” and slow progress in low- and middle-income countries is an early warning that all the ambitious SDG targets in education (and likely of social progress) are at risk. Based on this evidence, we suggest a new medium-term target to guide the World Bank’s work in low- and middle- income countries: cut learning poverty by at least half by 2030. This target, together with improved measurement of learning, can be as an evidence-based tool to accelerate progress to get all children reading by age 10.

Type: 
Time Series
Languages Supported: 
English
External Contact Email: 
Topics: 
Education
Gender
Poverty
GP & CCSAs: 
Education
Granularity: 
Geographical Coverage: 
World
East Asia & Pacific
American Samoa
Australia
Brunei Darussalam
Cambodia
China
Cook Islands
Fiji
French Polynesia
Guam
Hong Kong SAR, China
Indonesia
Japan
Kiribati
Korea, Dem. People's Rep.
Korea, Rep.
Lao PDR
Macao SAR, China
Malaysia
Marshall Islands
Micronesia, Fed. Sts.
Mongolia
Myanmar
Nauru
New Caledonia
New Zealand
Niue
Northern Mariana Islands
Palau
Papua New Guinea
Philippines
Samoa
Singapore
Solomon Islands
Taiwan, China
Thailand
Timor-Leste
Tonga
Tuvalu
Vanuatu
Vietnam
Europe & Central Asia
Albania
Andorra
Armenia
Austria
Azerbaijan
Belarus
Belgium
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bulgaria
Channel Islands
Croatia
Cyprus
Czech Republic
Denmark
Estonia
Faroe Islands
Finland
France
Georgia
Germany
Gibraltar
Greece
Greenland
Hungary
Iceland
Ireland
Isle of Man
Italy
Kazakhstan
Kosovo
Kyrgyz Republic
Latvia
Liechtenstein
Lithuania
Luxembourg
North Macedonia
Moldova
Monaco
Montenegro
Netherlands
Norway
Poland
Portugal
Romania
Russian Federation
San Marino
Serbia
Slovak Republic
Slovenia
Spain
Sweden
Switzerland
Tajikistan
Turkey
Turkmenistan
Ukraine
United Kingdom
Uzbekistan
Latin America & Caribbean
Anguilla
Antigua and Barbuda
Aruba
Argentina
Bahamas, The
Barbados
Belize
Bolivia
Brazil
British Virgin Islands
Cayman Islands
Chile
Costa Rica
Colombia
Cuba
Curaçao
Dominica
Dominican Republic
Ecuador
El Salvador
Grenada
Guatemala
Guyana
Haiti
Honduras
Jamaica
Martinique
Mexico
Montserrat
Nicaragua
Panama
Paraguay
Netherlands Antilles
Peru
Puerto Rico
Sint Maarten (Dutch part)
St. Barthélemy
St. Kitts and Nevis
St. Martin (French part)
St. Lucia
St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Suriname
Trinidad and Tobago
Turks and Caicos Islands
Uruguay
Venezuela, RB
Virgin Islands (U.S.)
Middle East & North Africa
Algeria
Bahrain
Egypt, Arab Rep.
Djibouti
Iraq
Iran, Islamic Rep.
Israel
Jordan
Kuwait
Lebanon
Libya
Malta
Morocco
Oman
Qatar
Saudi Arabia
Syrian Arab Republic
West Bank and Gaza
United Arab Emirates
Tunisia
Yemen, Rep.
North America
Bermuda
Canada
United States
South Asia
Afghanistan
Bangladesh
Bhutan
India
Pakistan
Nepal
Maldives
Sri Lanka
Sub-Saharan Africa
Angola
Benin
Botswana
Burkina Faso
Burundi
Cabo Verde
Cameroon
Central African Republic
Chad
Comoros
Congo, Dem. Rep.
Congo, Rep.
Côte d'Ivoire
Ethiopia
Eritrea
Equatorial Guinea
Gabon
Gambia, The
Ghana
Guinea
Guinea-Bissau
Kenya
Lesotho
Liberia
Madagascar
Malawi
Mali
Mauritania
Mauritius
Mozambique
Namibia
Niger
Nigeria
Reunion
Rwanda
São Tomé and Principe
Seychelles
Senegal
Sierra Leone
Somalia
South Africa
South Sudan
Sudan
Eswatini
Tanzania
Togo
Uganda
Zambia
Zimbabwe
Economy Coverage: 
High Income
IBRD
IDA
Low Income
Lower Middle Income
Upper Middle Income
Number of Economies: 
116
Periodicity: 
Annual
Temporal Coverage: 
2001 - 2017
Release Date: 
October 17, 2019

Last Updated

Last Updated: 
October 17, 2019

Update Frequency

Update Frequency: 
Biannually
Update Schedule: 

October and April

Source: 

Azevedo, Joao Pedro, and others. 2019. Will Every Child Be Able to Read by 2030? Why Eliminating Learning Poverty Will Be Harder Than You Think, and What to Do About It. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper series. Washington, DC: World Bank.

Statistical Concept and Methodology: 
For methodological details including aggregation method please see "Azevedo, Joao Pedro, and others. 2019. Will Every Child Be Able to Read by 2030? Why Eliminating Learning Poverty Will Be Harder Than You Think, and What to Do About It. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper series. Washington, DC: World Bank."
Unit of measure: 

percentages

Data Notes: 
For methodological details including aggregation method please see "Azevedo, Joao Pedro, and others. 2019. Will Every Child Be Able to Read by 2030? Why Eliminating Learning Poverty Will Be Harder Than You Think, and What to Do About It. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper series. Washington, DC: World Bank."
Version Production Date: 
Wednesday, October 16, 2019
Publication Place: 

Washington, DC

Organization: 
The World Bank and UNESCO Institute of Statistics
Other Acknowledgments: 
The team that produced this database consisted of João Pedro Azevedo, Reema Nayar, Halsey Rogers, and Kristoffer Gustav Bjarkefur, Marguerite Clarke, Michael Crawford, Natasha De Andrade Falcao, Ning Fu, Tihtina Zenebe Gebre, Koen Martijn Geven, Diana Goldemberg, Marcela Gutierrez Bernal, Laura Gregory, Syedah Aroob Iqbal, Maria Jose Vargas Mancera, Sergio Venegas Marin, Harry Anthony Patrinos, Shwetlena Sabarwal, Brian William Stacy, Jason Allen Weaver, Ryoko Tomita Wilcox, and Hongxi Zhao. The team is grateful to Silvia Montoya, Adolfo Imhof, and Friederich Huebler of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics for their comments and strong collaboration in building the harmonized dataset.
Time Periods: 
October, 2019

No Visualizations Available.

Learning Poverty (October, 2019), The World Bank and UNESCO Institute of Statistics

Will all children be able to read by 2030? The ability to read with comprehension is a foundational skill that every education system around the world strives to impart by late in primary school—generally by age 10. Moreover, attaining the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in education requires first achieving this basic building block, and so does improving countries’ Human Capital Index scores. Yet past evidence from many low- and middle-income countries has shown that many children are not learning to read with comprehension in primary school. To understand the global picture better, we have worked with the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) to assemble a new dataset with the most comprehensive measures of this foundational skill yet developed, by linking together data from credible cross-national and national assessments of reading. This dataset covers 115 countries, accounting for 81% of children worldwide and 79% of children in low- and middle-income countries. The new data allow us to estimate the reading proficiency of late-primary-age children, and we also provide what are among the first estimates (and the most comprehensive, for low- and middle-income countries) of the historical rate of progress in improving reading proficiency globally (for the 2000-17 period). The results show that 53% of all children in low- and middle-income countries cannot read age-appropriate material by age 10, and that at current rates of improvement, this “learning poverty” rate will have fallen only to 43% by 2030. Indeed, we find that the goal of all children reading by 2030 will be attainable only with historically unprecedented progress. The high rate of “learning poverty” and slow progress in low- and middle-income countries is an early warning that all the ambitious SDG targets in education (and likely of social progress) are at risk. Based on this evidence, we suggest a new medium-term target to guide the World Bank’s work in low- and middle- income countries: cut learning poverty by at least half by 2030. This target, together with improved measurement of learning, can be as an evidence-based tool to accelerate progress to get all children reading by age 10.

FieldValue
Modified Date
2019-10-22
Release Date
Periodicity
Annual
Identifier
ba158e00-17b5-43ae-865b-08c52293e748
Temporal Coverage

2001 - 2017

License
License Not Specified
Contact Email
Public Access Level
Public
Rating: 
0
No votes yet
Type: 
Languages Supported: 
Time Periods: 
October, 2019
Publication Place: 
Washington, DC
Other Acknowledgments: 
The team that produced this database consisted of João Pedro Azevedo, Reema Nayar, Halsey Rogers, and Kristoffer Gustav Bjarkefur, Marguerite Clarke, Michael Crawford, Natasha De Andrade Falcao, Ning Fu, Tihtina Zenebe Gebre, Koen Martijn Geven, Diana Goldemberg, Marcela Gutierrez Bernal, Laura Gregory, Syedah Aroob Iqbal, Maria Jose Vargas Mancera, Sergio Venegas Marin, Harry Anthony Patrinos, Shwetlena Sabarwal, Brian William Stacy, Jason Allen Weaver, Ryoko Tomita Wilcox, and Hongxi Zhao. The team is grateful to Silvia Montoya, Adolfo Imhof, and Friederich Huebler of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics for their comments and strong collaboration in building the harmonized dataset.
GP & CCSAs: 
Number of Economies: 
116
Update Frequency: 
Is this dataset a subscription: 
No
Update Schedule: 
October and April
Subtitle: 
Historical data and sub-components
Geographical Coverage: 
Data Classification of a Dataset: 
Version Production Date: 
Wednesday, October 16, 2019
Start Date: 
Monday, January 1, 2001
End Date: 
Tuesday, January 31, 2017
HED
Programatic Region: 
Release Date: 
Thursday, October 17, 2019
Last Updated Date: 
Thursday, October 17, 2019
Unit of measure: 
percentages
External Contact Email: 
Organization: 
The World Bank and UNESCO Institute of Statistics
Granularity: 
Data Notes: 
For methodological details including aggregation method please see "Azevedo, Joao Pedro, and others. 2019. Will Every Child Be Able to Read by 2030? Why Eliminating Learning Poverty Will Be Harder Than You Think, and What to Do About It. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper series. Washington, DC: World Bank."
Statistical Concept and Methodology: 
For methodological details including aggregation method please see "Azevedo, Joao Pedro, and others. 2019. Will Every Child Be Able to Read by 2030? Why Eliminating Learning Poverty Will Be Harder Than You Think, and What to Do About It. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper series. Washington, DC: World Bank."
Citation Text: 
Learning Poverty (October, 2019), The World Bank and UNESCO Institute of Statistics
Modified date: 
18185
Primary Dataset: 
Yes
Source: 

Azevedo, Joao Pedro, and others. 2019. Will Every Child Be Able to Read by 2030? Why Eliminating Learning Poverty Will Be Harder Than You Think, and What to Do About It. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper series. Washington, DC: World Bank.

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