Thank you for the insight and glad to learn that the importance of education, especially the early foundations of it, is acknowledged more. Also, that an evidence-based approach is fostered.
I just came back from a teaching experience at an American University in Iraqi Kurdistan and have experienced willing and dedicated students who, however, were not able to formulate their thoughts concisely in a 300-word essay despite very clear instructions and a sample essay. Also despite having gone through prep courses. Thus, once more (after working in the MENA region now for seven years, both at universities and by training adults) I concluded that it is not only about reading, writing and basic math. All kind of teaching, even at kindergarten level, should encourage students to ask questions and to apply their gained knowledge without fear of failure. Which is a didactic challenge in cultures which avoid any kind of risk or uncertainty due to the fear of feeling embarrassed in public.
Furthermore, in most developing countries teachers are often abusing their power, e.g. by publicly punishing students (physically), even with the appreciation of the students’ parents. Certainly, this does not foster an atmosphere in which learning is seen as fun. Students learn quickly that learning by heart and not challenging the teacher with questions is the best survival tactic in the short run. However, in their lifelong run, it is not. Not for the individual nor for nations and societies.
The proposed evaluation will measure the ability of reading. So this will direct the teachers' efforts to make exactly that happen. They will use the same techniques which have proved to be successful in the past if they are not a) understanding that it should not only be about „the child’s ability to read“ but also „to comprehend what she reads“ and b) get training on how they can adapt their teaching with regard to the second aim without losing respect in their respective culture.
Thus, I suggest modifying the evaluation criteria. These criteria not only are means to measure, but they are also impactful means to steer development which why it is important to scrutinize their potential side-effects.