Leveling Up: Bringing Digital Reading to an Entire District in Ghana
7 years ago, a small team of Worldreader staff traveled to a school in Ghana with a batch of 20 e-readers. We wanted to test whether e-readers filled with books could be an innovative and effective tool for closing the literacy gap in Sub-Saharan Africa.
That was just the beginning. Since then, we’ve scaled up our presence in Ghana and Sub-Saharan Africa exponentially. We’ve sent a total of 8,269 e-readers loaded with over 1 million books to schools and libraries across Ghana. One school and one library at a time, we’re building the case that digital reading can improve reading outcomes and create cultures of reading. So what would it look like if we reached an entire district of schools at a time and we did so with the district at the forefront of this scale effort?
Today, I’m pleased to announce that we are launching the Ghana District Scale (GDS) project—our first-ever district-run digital reading program in partnership with the District Education Office (DEO) of Kwaebibirem. Through this project, we will work directly with the DEO of Kwaebibirem to develop systems and processes to facilitate the scaling of digital reading to all 90 public primary schools within the district.
Over the next 3 years, we will build district-wide capacity to deploy, train and manage the implementation of the district-wide scale. We will support the district to fully integrate programs into their existing structures to ensure the programs are sustained for long-term impact.
The District Scale Project will reach approximately 45,000 students within the Kwaebibirem District. These students will receive close to 600,000 e-books, including relevant textbooks and school materials as well as a wide variety of storybooks in both English and Akuapem, the local language.
For Worldreader, this is an exciting opportunity to significantly scale our work and prove the efficacy of digital reading in a systematic way. We believe this kind of approach will lead to more impactful and durable change that can be widely adopted by other districts and entire governments so we can get the next million students reading.
From the beginning, Ghana has been an incredibly important place for the growth of Worldreader’s e-reader programs. This year, Ghana ranked second in Sub-Saharan Africa in the World Economic Forum’s Global Human Capital Index, reflecting a consistent commitment to the educational attainment of the country’s young people.
Like many of you, we want to see faster and lasting change in the lives of students and our commitment to that goal is steadfast. We won’t be satisfied until every child has access to digital books so they can develop the skills and habits needed to become a reader.
Over time, we realized that what made the most successful e-reading programs successful—large or small—was the willingness to adopt and fully integrate these programs, not only from the teachers, but entire school systems and communities. We can’t think of a better place to scale that lesson than Ghana.
Worldreader believes that readers build a better world. We’re an online learning charity with a low-cost, high-technology approach, combining 21st-century education technology, culturally-relevant digital ebooks, and supportive programming to support the sustainable development goals – particularly improving learning outcomes, workforce readiness, and gender equity in vulnerable communities around the world. Since 2010, Worldreader and its partners have distributed over 46 million digital books to 15 million children and young adults across five regions (East Africa, West Africa, Latin America, MENA, and South Asia). Worldreader is always looking for partners to reach millions more. With COVID-19 forcing millions of children out of school, Worldreader is providing distance learning solutions to families around the world. To donate to our reading charity, please go to worldreader.org/donate.