We’re a global non-profit, headquartered in San Francisco and with offices in Europe and Africa, on a mission to eradicate illiteracy by delivering a library of e-books to people in low income countries.
Here’s how we do it: We start early using e-readers in primary schools where if kids fall behind, they almost never catch up. Kids begin reading thousands of local stories together with great international books that we’ve curated into the largest most culturally relevant libraries of books. Our rapid scaling capacity is the most effective and inexpensive way to eradicate illiteracy globally.
And the results are staggering: in less than 5 months children show significant improvements in fluency and comprehension and the gender gap closes. Once children are active readers, together with their families they can continue to access our content via our mobile phone app available to 80% of the developing world via feature phones– helping people make decisions, learn, grow and change their lives.
We’re marching towards a literate planet- a crucial step to end global poverty, and you can help right at the beginning by sponsoring a school with e-readers.
A World Without Books
Literacy is a critical driver of prosperity (OECD International Adult Literacy Survey 1994-98), and reading inspires and empowers. Yet there are 740 million illiterate people in this world and 250 million children of primary school age lack basic reading and writing skills (UNESCO). This is often due to the fact that people in many parts of the world have access to a vanishingly small range of books. In fact, Fifty percent of schools in sub-Saharan Africa have few or no books (SACMEQ II), slowing learning and societal advancement.
Measured Impact: Students Read More & Better
As of February 2014, we’ve put over 944,300 e-books – and the life-changing, power-creating ideas contained within them – into the hands of 13,596 children in in nine African countries. Through Worldreader Mobile more than 335,000 people are reading a wide variety of books including educational material, health tips, love stories, prize winning short stories, children’s books, classics, and more– all on a device they already own: their mobile phone.
Since we started our efforts to eradicate illiteracy, Worldreader has been committed to gauging our impact through extensive monitoring and evaluation activities, which measure the number of books read before and after deployment, students’ reading ability, as well as own ability to provide delivery and support. We’ve been research focused since day one and have a long term track record of examining what works and what doesn’t when it comes to eradicating illiteracy.
Our own monitoring and evaluation consistently shows that children in our e-readers program read more and read better since having access to books. Our kids in sub-Saharan Africa, on average read 9 books per school term and significantly improve their native language and english fluency skills. We also know that one year in a Worldreader program for a child is equivalent to two years of regular schooling. Longer-term, we hope to see increased community involvement in reading, and ultimately, increased literacy rates beyond UN-predicted levels. We continue to conduct research within our programs, the results of which are published on our Learnings page.
Local Books Mean Kids Read More
Many of the books in our programs are from African publishers and authors. When students begin to read, they are more engaged when the stories in their books are familiar to them. In addition, local schools prefer to work with local textbooks. We partner with African publishing partners to make their books available to children in our e-reader programs, and to everyone through Worldreader Mobile.
At the same time, the literature of the world is of immense interest to children everywhere. Our international publishing partners make their books available at no cost, exposing children and families everywhere to some of the best-known literature in the world.
We’re donor-funded, partner-supported, and people-empowering. We work with sponsoring organizations to close the gap between the cost of devices and books and the price local communities can pay, until costs become more affordable. Funding also allows our organization to develop and digitize local books, as well as manage logistics and support in partnership with local governments, school systems, and related businesses.
Worldreader builds capacity in the communities where we work, providing technical and pedagogical training for project managers and local teachers. We even help local businesses repair e-readers, just as they repair cell phones. And we will declare success if we have not only improved reading rates and demand for books, but also have helped create a sustainable ecosystem to support reading in developing communities.
Help kids and their families become book lovers by bringing Worldreader to classrooms, spreading the word, donating, or holding a fundraiser. Donations go toward buying e-readers and e-books and building programs that gets kids to read more. And if you are a publisher or author, donate your books and stories to our programs.
We help publishers and authors digitize books. | Browse our collection.
Watch it working
Sarah, a teacher in Ghana, describes the wonderful effects of e-readers on her students’ reading abilities.