Save the Children’s Study Shows that Out-of-Classroom Learning Boosts Kids’ Reading Skills

Save the Children’s Study Shows that Out-of-Classroom Learning Boosts Kids’ Reading Skills

New research reveals that in Pakistan, Zimbabwe and five other countries, out-of-school support is key to improving reading skills among girls, children living in poverty and those with few books or readers at home.

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Kids are learning to read outside of school hours through Literacy Boost, and the results show that it works. Read more in our new Save the Children report, Beyond Classroom Walls: A Boost for Readers
Kids are learning to read outside of school hours through Literacy Boost, and the results show that it works. Read more in our new Save the Children report
Beyond Classroom Walls: A Boost for Readers.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Sept. 6, 2013) — More than a third of all primary-school age children around the world still cannot read or write, whether they attend school or not. The good news: Save the Children's new report shows that teaching children early on how to read not only in school but also through activities outside the classroom effectively boosts reading ability.

"Worldwide, 250 million children of primary school age cannot read or write. Going to school isn't enough to guarantee learning," said Carolyn Miles, president and CEO for Save the Children. "The gap in reading ability between strong and struggling readers widens with age, which is why it's critically important that children learn to read early on."

In its report, Beyond School Walls: A Boost for Readers, Save the Children reviewed results from the first year of its Literacy Boost program in seven participating countries. The program helps improve children's reading ability by measuring their skill level, training teachers and engaging communities.

The new study focuses on the most struggling readers in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Nepal, Pakistan and Zimbabwe: children living in poverty, girls and children with few books or readers at home. The findings show that, across the board, Literacy Boost program participants demonstrated significantly greater growth in reading ability than students not enrolled in the program. Additionally, Literacy Boost students were much more likely to stay in school than their peers who do not attend the program.

Here is a peek at some of the results:

  • Getting an A for Attendance: Children living in extreme poverty who participate in Literacy Boost were 91.6 percent more likely in Pakistan, 73.5 percent more likely in Zimbabwe and 30 percent more likely in Bangladesh to stay in school than their peers who do not participate in the program.
  • Learning the ABCs: Girls attending Literacy Boost learned 6.5 times more letters of the alphabet in Pakistan, and 2.5 times more letters in Nepal, than female students who did not enroll in the program.
  • Reading it Right: In Zimbabwe and Pakistan, female students participating in Literacy Boost made nearly twice as much progress in reading words and sentences correctly than girls not enrolled in the program.
  • Becoming a Word Whiz: In Ethiopia and Zimbabwe, Literacy Boost students from homes with the fewest books more than doubled their word-reading ability over the course of the year.
  • Connecting the Dots: In Pakistan and Malawi, Literacy Boost students from homes with the fewest books made three times as much progress in understanding what they read as their peers not enrolled in the program.

The report's release leads up to this month's meeting of world leaders at the United Nations headquarters to review the progress made toward the global goal of getting and keeping more children in school.

"The new research shows that now is the time to think of creative ways to foster in all children a lifelong love of learning that extends beyond school," said Miles. "We urge the decision-makers to think outside the box and take a closer look at Save the Children's approach to learning in and out of the classroom, which in just one year has proven effective in seven countries."

To read the full report and watch a short video, visit: www.savethechildren.org/literacy-boost

Save the Children is the leading, independent organization that creates lasting change for children in need in the United States and around the world. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.