Rose sits with Effie in the Laini Saba Community library and listens to her read. Effie stumbles through the words and Rose helps her sound them out when she gets stuck. It’s a simple thing but it makes the world of difference to Effie. She gets frustrated when she can’t read the words, without Rose sitting with her, she would have given up by now.

There is no other adult or older child who sits and reads with Effie. She goes to a small private school in Kibera. Her teacher instructs the whole class but doesn’t sit with each student to read one on one. At home, Effie’s mum is out running a small vegetable stall and doesn’t find time to read with Effie. The only book in their home is the bible and its way beyond Effie’s reading level.

The World Bank has a new target to end learning poverty around the world. They define learning poverty as being unable to read and understand a simple text by age 10. They focus on literacy because it is foundational to learning all other subjects.

In low and middle-income countries like Kenya, 53% of children experience learning poverty. Learning outcomes are lower in informal settlements like Kibera according to research by Uwezo.

Our community library in Kibera is on the front lines of this global fight to reduce learning poverty. Rose’s simple act of listening to Effie stumble through a story is contributing to a much greater goal. Being able to read gives Effie the key to open many more doors.