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September 2023 Foundational Literacy and Numeracy Roundup 

September 2023 Foundational Literacy and Numeracy Roundup 

Written by

Brett Harris

Published on

October 1, 2023

In the year following the Transforming Education Summit,, talk and commitments on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy have fallen in volume from their peak in September 2022. While donors and partners are expected to be moving into the “implementation” phase of their efforts to transform education, the scarcity of high-level news on FLN suggests that education may be falling in prioritization relative to other sectors. This September 2023 Foundational Literacy and Numeracy Roundup tracks key policy developments and commitments among DAC Donors, multilaterals, and other actors throughout the third quarter of 2023.

Key developments

Advocates, leaders, and spectators alike expressed their disappointment at the conclusion of the 78th UN General Assembly, which took place in New York throughout September 2023. Punctuated by notable absences from world leaders and filled with ambitious rhetoric that contrasted sharply with historical precedents, UNGA78 was defined by a familiar cast of competing crises including climate change, the war in Ukraine, and food insecurity.

However, the SDG Summit’s Transforming Education session on September 17 was a much more subdued affair, lasting a total of 90 minutes. Similarly, FLN garnered reduced visibility during the forum, noted only in relation to learning deficits, and the establishment of a group of “front-runner” implementing countries to publicize under-resourced topics, like FLN.

DAC Donor Updates 

  • The UK FCDO released its UK-ASEAN Factsheet, which highlighted GBP30 million (US$37 million) program for women’s and girls’ education. In addition to funding allocated to improving access to education, the program aims to shore up basic math and reading skills and education in cooperaiton with policymakers and educators.
  • In July 2023, the EU provided EUR66 million (US$70 million) to support Niger’s implementation of its 2014-2024 Education Sector Plan, which prioritizes improvements to basic education through tailored instruction for diverse students, e.g., through mother-tongue instruction.

Multilateral Developments 

  • The IDB authorized a US$15 million loan for Belize’s Skills for the Future program, which aims to address systemic gaps in FLN education through shoring up support for vulnerable populations, such as students with disabilities, or women and girls.
  • Education Cannot Wait released its 2022 Annual Report, which found that 670,000 students—over half of whom were girls—participated in ECW-sponsored nonformal education programs, which are structured to provide tailored support for students to develop FLN skills.
  • During UNGA78, the World Bank released a statement on learning outcomes in East-Asian and Pacific countries. The statement highlighted the importance of FLN, and urged decisionmakers to increase awareness and support for the issue, while also producing innovative policy measures to improve educator capacity, trainings, and use of education technologies.
  • UNESCO announced the winning programs for its International Literacy Prizes. Judged by an international jury, the winners were distinct in their expansion of access to literacy-building tools, especially for marginalized populations. At the same time, some programs were notable for their tailored approach to the special needs of different students and populations.
  • The Global Partnership for Education released a blogpost on the impact of multilingualism on FLN development, arguing that students should receive foundational instruction in the languages they speak best and highlighting the improved FLN outcomes for learners of multiple languages.
  • GPE also awarded a US$200,000 grant to Egypt for building education system capacity for 2023-2024, with a specific focus on increasing access to high-quality FLN education.
Brett Harris

Brett Harris

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