SEATTLE – There are 775 million illiterate people in the world. In Sub-Saharan Africa, 200 million children are living in locations without access to basic books. Worldreader, a nonprofit firm, raised $1.5 million from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, publishers and other foundations paying for 1,100 Kindles and 180,000 e-books to be sent to students and educators in Ghana, Kenya and Uganda.
President and CEO Rhonda H. Lauer of Foundations Incorporated expresses in an article by Language and Literacy for All that literacy broadens vocabulary and enhances learning capabilities and professionalism. Reading is an experience that shapes culture and empathy, and leads children to their educational goals. Without literacy, children remain in or fall into poverty. A child’s self-esteem increases by reading strictly for pleasure and reading often.
The fact is, children are having difficulty learning to read and write in poverty-stricken communities with lack of guidance.
Parents who are illiterate cannot effectively support their children’s lessons. When children have to select from a donated collection of books inappropriate for their culture, in addition to being confusing or uninteresting, reading is simply not a priority. E-readers provided by Worldreader have more than 5,000 book titles in 23 languages.
The Worldreader program has affected 200,000 people in 27 countries, including Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and India. About 12,000 students in Ghana have more than 2,000 titles available on a Kindle. The limit of a thousand regular books supplied by schools and libraries becomes too small of a selection for avid readers in poverty. There are now 10 or 100 times more e-books with e-readers.
E-readers are basically enlarged cellphones with Internet availability. They are light-weight and have long-lasting battery to ensure a positive experience and extensive daily learning. They are especially beneficial when children are already familiar with basic mobile phone usage. A few new tricks in using e-readers ensure longer battery life, such as shutting down network capability when not in use.
Problems are still inevitable when the battery eventually dies. When students and instructors are not trained in the operation of the device, it is not valuable.
Nevertheless, Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana combined have a total of 47,735 cellphone users and 30,712 e-reader users. Both are essential tools of learning and reading; in fact, e-readers are almost as popular and useful as other mobile devices. The Worldreader program trains educators to guarantee lasting experiences for many children.
Books can be enjoyed for their cultural relevance as local publishers reach out. The program also distributes books by national African authors.
Take author Ngure Matu Ndiritu, for example. His storybook collection titled Out of the Box was published in 2014. He’s been writing since he was five and published his collection at age eight.
These stories unveil his imagination as he reflects on life by addressing morals of friendship and compassion. This includes the friendly relationship sparked between an elephant and a dinosaur. His collection is available through Worldreader’s e-readers all across Sub-Saharan Africa.
In 2010, only 69.9 percent of Sub-Saharan Africa’s youth between the ages of 15 and 24 were literate. There was about 46.8 percent of the populace by headcount that made less than $1.25 daily as recorded in 2011. It is likely that those making less are illiterate and will not be able to add to the literacy rate. With programs like Worldreader, children are given a chance to do so and pass on the skill to the next generation.
Schools like Mukono’s Humble School in Uganda specifically educate the needy and those infected with HIV. They had a lack of funding and essential materials. Worldreader ensures the most essential tool for learning and development is provided cheaply to schools and libraries lagging behind in efficient material. Families have noticed the positive changes in children, including better handwriting. Students have wanted to take home the devices where light is absent but not on a Kindle.