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Many children in Asia and Africa struggle with basic literacy, hindering their ability to study more advanced subjects. Schools are often overcrowded, resources limited and teachers too stretched.
The coronavirus pandemic has set back pupils’ learning further, closing schools. Limited access to mobile devices and the internet is a barrier to studying remotely.
The FT followed two children determined to pursue their education despite the difficulties. Both have access to programmes to help their reading.
In the village of Charpatia in Madhya Pradesh, India, where female literacy is 20 per cent below male levels, Kirma, eight, uses books in Hindi provided by the Strengthening Academic Leadership for Early Reading initiative, supported by the UN children’s fund Unicef and non-profit Room to Read with the state department of education. Her family’s main dialect is Nimadi.
In Kibaha in the Pwani region of Tanzania, just over half of children complete primary education and a third never attend school at all. Joshua, nine, reads Swahili books by local authors and published by Room to Read.