Worldreader Looks Back At A Good 2012 – Ebooks For African Kids

Worldreader has just celebrated the end of an enormously successful 2012, in the course of which they have spread their activities to no less than 5 African countries now (Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania), they have launched an amazingly successful mobile phone app, which has allowed something like 500 000 users around Africa to access ebooks on thier mobile phones, given out thousands of Kindles and hundreds of thousand copies of a huge range of ebooks, both Western and African.

Now to celebrate the start of the new year, they have just delivered a further 100 000 to Kenya!

They were given a grant of $300 000 by ”All Children Reading: Grand Challenge for Development” Award” which was obviously a wonderful shot in the arm for them and their work.  Sadly they didn’t manage to win any of the money that Chase were giving away, but time enough, and they did get as far as the final list on that, which in itself is a wonderful achievement for such a young charity.

They have entered into partnerships with publishers all over the world, many of whom have donated hundreds, if not thousands of ebooks to the work, and perhaps even more importantly, they have worked with African publishers and writers to cause a huge flood of African writing to be published, both as paper books and as ebooks for the Kindles.  A great shot in the arm for African writing to say the least.

Another, sometimes overlooked part of what they have brought about with their Kindles in Africa is the effect those Kindles are having on the communities at large, as people become aware of all those kids wandering around with their noses buried deeply in their Kindles.   In the best African tradition, sharing has become part of it all.

As you can see in this UN Video about how the first load of Kindles were received in Ghana, they have had an enormous impact on the lives of all of those folk, and opened up all manner of possibilities (realistic ones too) for those children.  A priceless gift.   I was particularly struck by what Gideon (the little boy in the video) said about school.  Can you imagine any kid in Melbourne, Los Angeles or London saying that?  Gideon realises all too well what an education can mean for him and the shape that his life will take as an adult.   And we can see that in the video too…  Started working at the family business at 6 years of age, works 7 hours a day, and still manages to get to school as well… but while working, he now has his head deep in a book… What a freedom and gift that is for him.    And Gideon is only one of thousands of African kids who have been given this gift now by the work of Worldreader (with a lot of help from DHL, no end of publishers, Amazon, Bill Gates and others) and of course, the small but extremely dedicated and cheerful folk who are Worldreader.

Here is a video that shows us the very start of Worldreader’s work in Ghana, with background to put it all in context… Makes fascinating viewing I found, so get comfortable, and spend about 8 minutes watching the world change for a classroom full of kids… Great to see.

So, now you can understand better perhaps why I am so supportive of the work of Worldreader – I have seen classrooms with only one or two books, kids piled up on top of each other trying to see the page and of course, failing by and large.    This is now in the past for some lucky kids in Africa, but still a long way to go……………………………………….

There is only one thing I miss in all of this, and that is the way the kids worked co-operatively before, not only sharing the books, but discussing what was written there, a much more co-operative approach to learning than is normal in the West.  Pity to lose that I feel.

But that is my only reservation about all of this.  for the rest I am in wonderment and awe of what Worldreader is doing in Africa, and hope with all my heart that their work flourishes and ere long they are all over that somewhat benighted continent, bringing hope to all those kids.

Link to worldreader

Share with us:  Care to help?  go to their website (Link above), see what they are doing and then help, financially or in any other way you can think up

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