18 January 2015
Last updated at 05:07
The Liberal Democrats are pledging to eliminate child illiteracy in England by 2025 if they remain in power after May’s general election.
Leader Nick Clegg will unveil a manifesto commitment, with extra money for poorer pre-school children.
The party has already said it would protect the education budget.
Labour says the Lib Dems have broken promises as part of the coalition, and compromised education standards by allowing unqualified teachers.
Mr Clegg said the coalition had cut illiteracy but said it was a “national scandal” that more than a fifth of 11-year-olds leave primary school without reaching what is regarded as the basic level in reading.
He said the Liberal Democrat manifesto would contain a pledge to eliminate child illiteracy in 10 years.
It will be measured in the Key Stage 2 exams in the final year of primary school.
The party says it would provide an extra £116m annually to the early years pupil premium received by nursery schools and childminders for poorer children. This would more than triple the funding given for each underprivileged child to £1,000.
The Lib Dems say they would also require higher staff standards, encouraging nursery workers to work towards gaining qualified teacher status.
Mr Clegg said: “We are raising the bar on what children should be able to achieve by the age of 11 and want all children to get over the bar by 2025.
“We are the only party who can make this commitment because, astonishingly, we are the only party committed to protecting the education budget from cradle to college in the next five years.”
He added: “We also need to help kids before they’ve even hung up their coat for the first day of primary school, by giving extra funding to nurseries.”
Justin Forsyth, chief executive of Save the Children, which is leading a group of charities campaigning to end child illiteracy, said: “To see this ambition become a reality, we now need to see every party follow suit. Our children’s futures, and our country’s future prosperity, depend upon it.”