How Literacy Changes Livelihoods

Learning to read opens doors. It allows individuals to complete their education, obtain employment, engage in civic activities, and make informed choices about their health and safety.

Children and youth with limited literacy may be left vulnerable to economic insecurity, gender-based violence, early pregnancy, and HIV infection. Reading is key to acquiring the skills and knowledge needed for a resilient and healthy life.

The USAID Integrated Child and Youth Development (ICYD) Activity works with the government of Uganda and partners to improve the delivery of basic education services to children and youth. The activity strengthens young people’s ability to engage with their environment, addresses their health and safety needs, and supports them in their personal growth.


In Uganda, the USAID ICYD Activity enhances early grade reading in more than 5,800 schools and communities. We improve learning outcomes by developing and refining learning materials, strengthening teacher preparation systems, and providing teacher support. These activities promote children’s reading abilities, thereby supporting their learning journey and increasing their likelihood of completing their education.

“When a child learns how to read at an early age, they are able to see a world beyond their own.”
–District Inspector of School, Mityana District, Uganda

Work Readiness and Accelerated Education

Increasing access to economic opportunity and helping learners get back on track is possible through work readiness and accelerated education (AE) programming. Working with local organizations and AE teachers, USAID through the ICYD Activity provided accelerated education to more than 4,000 children and youth and work readiness and soft skills training to more than 9,000 out-of-school youth.

“Through the ICYD training, I learned to dream even under my current situation. I now see my challenges as a chance to discover my strengths. I was given new skills that I never imagined I would have and taught to set goals.”
–Joshua Tumwesigye, Trained Youth, Jinja District, Uganda


With local and international partners, we’ve reached more than 155,500 Ugandans with evidence-based HIV, child, and social protection service packages, including support for gender-based violence prevention. These supports allow children and youth to address their health and safety needs, practice positive behaviors, and make informed choices about their lives and relationships.

“When students feel safe, they can focus on their education. Safety is the foundation for ensuring children stay in school and pursue their dreams.”
–Aumu Vicky, Head teacher

Why It Matters

According to UNESCO, 250 million children worldwide cannot read. In Uganda, where children and youth make up more than 75% of the population, around 1.5 million students were left with limited or no access to education due to nearly two years of school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through ICYD, communities across Uganda are making strides to close these gaps, build literacy skills, and support new livelihoods.

Learning to read is not merely a skill—it is a gateway to a more resilient future. By investing in literacy, work readiness, and health, we can empower communities and build a foundation of sustainable progress. In Uganda and around the world, EDC is transforming lives through learning.