Digital Reading | March 26, 2020

Bringing Free E-Books to Students in Africa During the COVID-19 Pandemic


Schools are closed across the world

The COVID-19 pandemic is not only a global health crisis, it is a learning crisis. As of 24 March 2020, 82% of the world’s learners are shut out of traditional schooling and education programs due to social distancing

Billions of students are at risk of learning loss

School closures can result in significant learning loss for students. In response to this global health crisis, UNESCO is supporting the implementation of large-scale distance learning programmes and recommending open educational applications and platforms that schools and teachers can use to reach learners remotely. 

Reading is a top priority

When considering how to mitigate learning loss in a pandemic, it should be a top priority to support reading skills and engagement with books, bridging the gap until schools are in session again.

For pre-primary learners, continuity in literacy acquisition is especially important. For primary students, availability of books is essential as reading is a foundational skill that supports acquisition of knowledge across all other subject areas. 

For young people, reading can support literacy skills, 21st Century Skills, work preparedness, self-help, and health education. Reading also offers young people the opportunity to visit worlds beyond their own while their own worlds are restricted by social distancing. 

The Worldreader app via Opera Mini provides free books

Even in low-resource communities, basic phones can provide access to books. Of the approximately seven billion people on Earth, more than six billion have access to mobile phones. 

For older students and young adults, Worldreader offers the free web app, available for mobile phones via the Opera Mini web browser. It features hundreds of books for learning and pleasure, in categories including Learn, Health, and Career. Over 100,000 people already read from it each month, with new readers joining every day.

For parents and caregivers who are looking to read with their young children, Worldreader’s new BookSmart app is also available via the Opera Mini browser.

With Opera Mini, readers save on data

The Opera browsers offer unique features and capabilities such as data savings, a free VPN and ad-blockers. The low bandwidth required on the Opera Mini browser means that readers use up to 90% less data when accessing the Worldreader app – which is vital for readers in remote communities with slow networks. Less data usage means lower costs. Lower costs allow for more reading and more opportunities to learn.

Digital solutions are key to keeping students reading while schools are out of session. With the Worldreader app, children and youth can maintain reading skills, learn new subjects, and enjoy the escape books provide during this pandemic.

Start reading on the Worldreader app from a mobile phone today.