Developing countries face distinct challenges in providing access to quality education. Educational provision also varies markedly in terms of teacher training, teaching and learning resources, school attendance, and motivation of parents, teachers and children for schooling. Against this backdrop, we consider the available evidence on foundation learning and literacy in order to identify key components for intervention that are appropriate to specific cultural and linguistic contexts. A fundamental assumption is that in order to increase the educational attainments of children, it is critical to put in place high-quality teacher education; however this is beyond the scope of the current review.
The review was informed by research conducted in economically developed countries, but the focus of the narrative review was on literature from developing countries (low- and lower-middle income countries), published from 1990 to January 2013. We chose 1990 as the cut-off year because this was the year of the Jomtein Summit and marked the UN Declaration of Education for All. All papers were appraised for methodological quality and cultural sensitivity, and we included only those studies rated as of high and moderate quality in the narrative review.