Worldreader

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What We Do

Creating a Literate World

Literacy is transformative: it increases earning potential, decreases inequality, improves health outcomes and breaks the cycle of poverty (UNESCO). Yet there are 740 million illiterate people in this world and 250 million children of primary school age who lack basic reading and writing skills (UNESCO). Books are necessary for the development of these skills, and still 50% of schools in Africa have few or no books at all (SACMEQ II).

Worldreader is on a mission to bring digital books to every child and her family, so that they can improve their lives.

Here’s how we do it:

Technology

The increasing ubiquity and diminishing costs of digital technology enable us to solve these problems in a simple and straight-forward way. Wherever possible, we build on digital platforms and mobile connectivity in the developing world to make our books available to children and families who need them the most.

We provide e-readers to schools in need through both sponsorships and sales.

We saw that cell phones were widely prevalent in developing countries so we created a mobile app which runs on feature phones and Android devices. Our publishing team works hard to optimize titles for the smallest screen sizes.

Our rapid scaling capacity is the most effective and inexpensive way to distribute books to those in limited and no-access areas. And it works: after less than 5 months in our program, children show significant improvements in fluency and comprehension.

Curation

We actively curate books by African authors for our library.

The more relevant and engaging a student’s first reads are, the more likely she is to continue learning and reading throughout her life.

We also help African authors and publishers translate and digitize their titles and expand their audiences.

We round out our library with wonderful titles donated by the world’s top trade and textbook publishers.

We reach readers in 37 countries, providing them with over 6,000 book titles in 41 languages.

Fieldwork

Worldreader has offices in San Francisco; Barcelona; Accra, Ghana; and Nairobi, Kenya. Our programs work best when they are embraced at the community level. Our on-the-ground support includes technical and pedagogical training for local project managers and teachers and e-reader repair training for local businesses.

We manage logistics and support in partnership with local governments, school systems, and related businesses.

An important part of our work is to monitor and evaluate our programs, measuring the number of books read before and after deployment, literacy levels across salient segments like age and gender, and performance of technology. We examine what works and what doesn’t and adapt as needed.

Through these efforts and our partnerships with the private sector, teachers, education experts, and other organizations, we continue to work towards a world in which every child and her family have the books they need to improve their lives, the practice of reading is commonplace, and where illiteracy is a thing of the past.

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