KaiOS Technologies and Worldreader Celebrate Milestone of Empowering 1 Million Readers
November 2023 – San Francisco / Hong Kong
In a strategic joint effort to fight the global learning crisis and bridge the digital divide, KaiOS Technologies and Worldreader proudly announce a new milestone: One million readers empowered through the BookSmart app.
Since 2020, KaiOS Technologies, the web-based mobile operating system powering a new category of smart feature phones, and Worldreader, the international edtech nonprofit, have partnered to deliver high-quality reading materials to first-time and early internet users on the affordable KaiOS-powered smart feature phones.
Since the launch of the partnership, over 1 million people, mainly in low and middle income countries where the learning crisis and the digital divide is more severe, have read over 3 million books via the KaiOS powered-smart feature phones on BooKSmart, Worldreader’s mobile reading app. The alliance has had an important impact in India where it has been activated on the JioPhones and made available on the Jio Store. Rebecca Chandler Leege, CEO of Worldreader, states, “This partnership represents putting the power of reading into the hands of those who need it most.”
Despite 95% global broadband coverage, the usage gap remains one of the main challenges for people to benefit from the Internet. According to the Global Connectivity Report 2022, 2.7 billion people (one third of the worldwide population) still don’t connect to the Internet. Device affordability stands as a significant barrier, with nearly 2.5 billion people living in countries where the cost of the cheapest smartphone accounts for a quarter or more of their average monthly income (Alliance for Affordable Internet, 2020).
In Sub-Saharan Africa, the learning crisis is particularly worrying, with more than 86% of ten years old children not able to comprehend a simple text, and where access to reading materials at home is scarce or nonexistent. With most countries having as low as 7% of books present at the household level (Countdown to 2030, 2021), the lack of access has a significant impact in building healthy reading habits among families.
Both organizations are committed to expanding their global reach and impact, focusing primarily on Sub-Saharan Africa, to continue tackling the device affordability and learning crisis. Sebastien Codeville, CEO and co-founder of KaiOS Technologies, says, “KaiOS’ mission to close the digital divide would not be complete without meaningful partnerships like the one with Worldreader, which enables our users to access useful and impactful content that contributes to changing their life”.
Worldreader gets children reading so they can reach their potential. An international ed-tech nonprofit organization, Worldreader supports parents and caregivers, school teachers, educators, and local partners with access to digital reading materials, training, impact data, and continuous engagement. Our aim is to support early childhood development and reading outcomes for children in under-resourced communities as well as in conflict and crisis settings. Having pioneered digital reading in the Global South since 2010, Worldreader has supported over 22 million readers in more than 100 countries. Worldreader believes that when children and caregivers are motivated and increase their volume and frequency of reading, short-term outcomes such as improved reading comprehension and social-emotional learning will be enhanced, leading to long-term educational outcomes, higher earning potential and stronger emotional intelligence.
About KaiOS Technologies
KaiOS Technologies powers an ecosystem of affordable digital products and services and exists to empower people around the world through technology. KaiOS’s mission is to open up new possibilities for individuals, organizations, and society by bringing mobile connectivity to the billions of people without internet in emerging markets, as well as providing those in established markets with an alternative to smartphones. In order to achieve the mission, we created an operating system — KaiOS. A flagship product that leads mobile operating systems with more than 170 million devices shipped in over 150 countries. KaiOS is based on HTML5 and other open web technologies. Devices running on the platform require limited memory, while still offering a rich user experience through access to apps like WhatsApp, YouTube, Facebook, Google Maps, and Wikipedia.
Wendi Yen Huestis