A $500 million reading-skills project has been unveiled by the Obama Administration. And young readers all around the globe—except United States citizens—will benefit from it.
The Assistance to Basic Education Learn to Read Now, or ABE LEARN, program is seen by the administration as a key step in carrying out the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Education Strategy 2011-2015.

According to a Request for Proposals that Patriot Update located via routine database research, ABE LEARN specifically is aiming to attain Goal One of that plan: Improve the reading skills of 100 million primary grade-school children globally.

Primary school enrollment worldwide has escalated over the past decade, with notable gains in low-income nations; despite this development, “children in these countries are completing primary school at only 67 percent of the rate of high‐income countries,” the RFP says.
Learning levels also are “alarmingly low” in countries such as Mali, Pakistan and Peru. According to USAID, “more than 70 percent of children in the primary grades” in those nations are unable to read grade-level material.

The agency said that it “holds itself accountable for results in basic education” globally. Failure to develop adequate reading skills inhibits the development of other workforce skills. ABE LEARN seeks to reduce or eliminate those disparities by deploying contractors to such countries in need.

“Children who do not develop reading skills during the primary grades are on a lifetime trajectory of limited educational progress and therefore limited economic opportunities,” the RFP says. “Studies have shown that the learning levels of a country’s population are correlated with economic growth.”
Improvements in teacher training program are anticipated to be a key element of ABE LEARN, as will be efforts to encourage family reading time at home and through community libraries.

USAID expects to award six Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity, or IDIQ, contracts over the next five years to unspecified vendors, two of whom the agency said must be small businesses. Under IDIQ contracts, USAID will issue task orders when it needs services.
Source document: Solicitation No. SOL-OAA-12-000068