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Group Submission Type: Formal Panel Session
As the global education community is still strategizing on how to best walk the Education 2030 talk, many education systems are already pushing forward to meet their learning commitments and implement the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4: ensuring inclusive and quality education for all and promoting lifelong learning.
One of the ten targets for this goal is: “By 2030, ensure that all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy”. All the SDGs and their targets are important, but achieving this basic education target will provide a foundation that supports the achievement of all the other targets for SDG4.
A deeper understanding of how humans learn is urgently needed to better facilitate learning. Understanding how learning to read happens is the first step. How do people learn to translate abstract symbols into meaningful sounds? Why is it hard for some and easy for others?
Cognitive psychology suggests standardized ways of teaching reading, and sees systematic letter sequences, phonics, or syllabic construction as essential for all learners, especially children.
Brain research shows that as children learn to read, the left side of the visual cortex of the brain becomes specialized to help them visually process letters. As they continue to learn, this region connects to other areas that represent the sounds of speech. This supports an approach to teaching reading based on correspondences between the letters that represent sounds and the sounds themselves (the so-called grapheme-phoneme correspondence) rather than whole-word recognition. Therefore, cognitive neuroscience supports the early teaching of mastery of the sounds, leading to a detailed analysis of sound-print correspondence.
However, brain networks alone offer an incomplete picture of how humans learn to read.
The process of learning to read is complex and builds on cognitive, linguistic, and social skills. Moreover, reading always takes place in a specific sociocultural context, which provides the framework for its meaning.
Taking into account these multidimensional factors, this panel brings together leading scholars and practitioners in the field to discuss ways in which learning to read can be improved. The presenters are authors of selected chapters from a UNESCO IBE book on the same critical topic.
Improving the teaching of reading: Lessons from multiple perspectives - John Comings, All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development
Aligning curriculum and assessment in early reading education - Peter Afflerbach, University of Maryland
Assessing early literacy outcomes in Burkina Faso and Senegal: Using DHS and PASEC to combine access and quality - Nic Spaull, Stellenbosch University; Adaiah Keren Lilenstein, Stellenbosch University
Getting it right from the start: Some cautionary notes for early reading instruction in African languages - Elizabeth Pretorius, UNISA
The children left behind: A reading program that works - Beatriz Diuk, National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET), Buenos Aires