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Youth demand action on the learning crisis

The world is in the depths of a learning crisis, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to estimates, nearly two-thirds of 10-year-olds across low-, middle-, and high-income countries are unable to read and understand a simple story, a measure known as learning poverty. These children's – and their families' and communities' – futures hang in the balance as education systems fail to ensure they learn the basic skills they need for lifelong learning. 


Children and young people have a key role to play in calling for action to address this crisis and prevent it from becoming a generational catastrophe. To capture their experiences, opinions, and ideas for solutions to the learning crisis, UNICEF launched a global U-Report on learning ahead of the Transforming Education Summit. This poll complemented a continental poll for Africa, together reaching over 440,000 young people across 171 countries. 


Here's what we learned. 


U-Reporters overwhelmingly think governments should provide more support for foundational learning.  


Across the globe, 87 per cent of U-Reporters believe that governments should provide more support, so all children learn basic reading and maths in primary school. In East Asia and the Pacific, nearly all U-Reporters – 97 per cent– believe governments should do more. 


In fact, seven out of 10 U-Reporters agree there is a global learning crisis.  


Yet, U-Reporters underestimate the scale of this crisis, measured through learning poverty – the percentage of 10-year-olds unable to read and understand a simple story.  


In some regions, a surprising number of U-Reporters didn’t feel their primary school prepared them well enough for secondary school.  


In Latin American and the Caribbean and the Middle East and North Africa, around one-third of U-Reporters didn’t feel prepared by their primary school for secondary school.  


In South Asia, less than 60 per cent felt prepared by their primary school for secondary school.

The poll also showed that U-Reporters’ learning was impacted by the pandemic.