The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Room to Read (RTR) are working in India to increase access to grade-level appropriate reading materials, provide children with opportunities to practice reading, and strengthen parental and community engagement in support of children’s learning to read.To recognise foundational literacy, numeracy, and social-emotional skills as prerequisite to future learning and success, USAID and RTR, today, hosted a National Seminar on ‘Reading Equals’, which was attended by various stakeholders, including government officials, NGOs, authors, illustrators, activists, advocacy experts, and publishers of children’s literature.Highlighting the importance of equal access to quality education, USAID/India’s Deputy Mission Director, Ms. Karen Klimowski said, “At USAID, we believe that education is the great equalizer and enabler. Quality education not only prepares the children and youth to learn and gain the skills they need for life, it also is a foundational driver for greater economic growth, improved health outcomes, sustained democratic governance, and more peaceful and resilient societies. We are proud to support foundational literacy and reading initiatives in India.”Welcoming the guests, Mr. Sourav Banerjee, Country Director, Room to Read India said “Room to Read India’s endeavor is to provide an enabling environment to young readers where they can move beyond looking at text for pleasurable reading and begin the journey of becoming more contributing individuals in the society. This is not only important to support the issue of foundational learning but is also a step towards ensuring social equality.”The event also provided an exclusive platform for experts to reflect on topics pertinent to young readers and learners. There were two panel discussions organized on ‘Literacy and Literature together: Opportunities and Challenges’ and ‘Our Gaze: The texts and the world’ respectively. These discussions were enriched by meaningful inputs from senior government officials and some of the prominent names working in the education sector.About U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) USAID is the U.S. Government’s premier international development agency and a catalytic factor driving development results. USAID works to help lift lives, build communities, and advance democracy. USAID’s work advances U.S. national security and economic prosperity; demonstrates American generosity; and helps countries progress along their development journey. In India, USAID is collaborating with the country’s growing human and financial resources through partnerships that catalyze innovation and entrepreneurship to solve critical local and global development challenges.To learn more, please visit: www.usaid.gov/indiaAbout Room to Read India (RTR)Room to Read is a global organization transforming the lives of millions of children in low-income communities by focusing on literacy and gender equality in education. Founded in 2000 on the belief that World Change Starts with Educated Children, RTR’s innovative model focuses on deep, systemic transformation within schools during two time periods that are most critical in a child’s schooling: early primary school for literacy acquisition and secondary school for girls’ education. RTR works in collaboration with local communities, partner organizations, and governments to develop literacy skills and a habit of reading among primary school children and ensure girls can complete secondary school with the skills necessary to negotiate key life decisions. By focusing on the quality of education provided within the communities and ensuring these outcomes are measured, RTR has created a model that can be replicated, localized, and sustained by governments. With its global headquarters in San Francisco, Room to Read has benefited 32 million children across 21 low-income countries. Room to Read India was established in 2003 and presently has programs in twelve states – Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Delhi NCR, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Telangana, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh.To learn more, please visit: www.roomtoreadindia.org.