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the literacy ledgerReflections, findings, stories and the lowdown

We’re Heading to Uganda! And Going Even Further…

December 13, 2011 By

A year ago, Worldreader officially launched “Books for All” in Ghana. A few months later, we went to Kenya.

Today, we’re adding another great “first” to the list. The Worldreader  movement to transform reading in the developing world will be heading to Uganda! Right, Uganda! Can we get a shout-out?!?

Why, you say? What’s the big deal about Uganda, a country in East Africa?

Well, for starters, it’s a really big step towards reaching our goal of giving one million kids 1,000,000! – access to books by 2015. Imagine all those kids who will have information, knowledge, and ideas at their fingertips. Imagine how that will touch their lives and inspire change in their communities. The mind marvels at what a profound effect a single device and a personal library of books can have.

Worldreader and The Kilgoris Project bring e-books to kids in Kenya. Photo courtesy of  Jon McCormack.

Our foray into Uganda marks another significant milestone. It represents how a project we modeled in Kenya with The Kilgoris Project can be replicated and distributed to other places in the Pan-Africa region, and eventually worldwide. We call it the Worldreader Partner Program. It’s a way for us to empower others in the developing world to improve literacy, put more e-books in schools and libraries, and get children excited about reading. In a nutshell, we offer select partners our know-how, and the partners handle the implementation and day-to-day program management. We share best practices and content, and keep moving forward giving more kids e-books. In 2012, the Worldreader Partner Program will pave the way for us to enter up to 10 new markets filled with kids hungry for books. You can read more about how to get involved here.

Our first partner in Uganda is the Humble United Methodist School (Here’s a curious side note: HUMBLE is an acronym for Helping Ugandan Mwana By Loving Example, and “Mwana” is a Luganda word for child). They’ll get things going with a 100 Kindles and initially focus on their elementary school students, said Dave Norman, a member of the school management committee and pastor at the Crossroads United Methodist Church, the Asburn, Va. organization sponsoring the school.

Expectations are already running high. Everyone’s gearing up for the beginning of February when the new school term starts and the e-readers will be switched on.

“The school is for the most vulnerable children with the greatest need,” he said. “These are children who would not have any opportunity like this. Now they will be exposed to the world through books.”

Dave tells a story that drives the point home. The Hope For Africa Children’s Choir recently performed at Crossroads, and afterwards parishioners were able to talk to the children, aged eight to 14.

Someone asked, “What’s your favorite story?” The kids looked at each other, and one replied, “The Bible.” No one else had an answer because they have very few books and, as a result, had no favorite story.

That’s when it clicked for many bystanders — digital books delivered via mobile phone technology could definitively make a difference in the lives of children like these.

Soon, kids at Humble United Methodist School will be reading on e-readers. Photo courtesy of Dave Norman.

Even Dave, who has been at the forefront of this collaboration, couldn’t help but think, “What if the choir comes back next year and someone asks the same question? Next year, they’ll be able to say ‘I love this book or that was my favorite story.’ They’ll be able to read books and classics that the world is reading.”

We can’t wait to hear what will top their list a few months from now.

And you? Curious to find out which book will be a page-turner for kids in Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, and who knows where else? Want to share the joy of reading? Support Worldreader. Give book love. Donate.