The inequality starts on day 1 of grade 1. The better off go on to learn reading and the rest don't. Many drop out illiterate in grades 1-3. And illiteracy does contribute to early dropout, according to various studies. Reading has been taught in low-income countries through complicated ways tailored to the English spelling and the high-resource schools of the "west". In local languages and by using the many relevant findings of cognitive neuroscience, nearly all can learn basic reading in the first semester of grade 1 (about 100 days, in all but about 7 languages). Decoding is only a start, but students thus will not be reading 0 words per minute. A concrete and measurable follow-up goal would be the attainment of automaticity at most by the end of grade 2 (45-60 wpm across languages and scripts). The big problem with this goal is "face value appeal": it's considered trivial by those who do not understand how automaticity develops. So while many donors talk about the profundities of reading to learn, they have little interest in the road that leads most efficiently to that state.