One nonprofit hopes bypassing paper books in favor of the mobile version will boost literacy.
by Katie Leavitt
In countries where it can take six months for a donated book to travel from point A to point B, providing children with e-readers seems like the most efficient way to battle low literacy levels. That's what Worldreader, a nonprofit co-founded by former Amazon.com vice president, David Risher, is determined to try.
“There’s a huge difference between being able to read from a selection of the 10 books that you happen to have — or that somebody donated — versus being able to get your hands on a book that you are really interested in,” Risher told The Wall Street Journal. “When you combine that with very very low distribution costs for additional books and falling technology prices, these are ingredients for doing something really special.”
Earlier this year Worldreader began testing in Ghana with Kindles donated by Amazon. They found that they work really well inside and outside the classroom. The organization likens the e-reader to the cell phone in terms of accelerating advancement in developing countries. They are accessible, hold a lot of information in one device and don't use as much energy as a computer.
“Computers play a great role, but e-readers really solve the reading problem [in a] much more direct and simple way,” said Risher. “Making books as easy to get as getting a phone call really does change they way that they think about reading.”
Worldreader is currently raising funds for another test this fall. Their mission is to not only raise literacy levels and in-school reading, but to make recreational reading an ingrained activity.
“It’s important that this be positioned not just as an educational aid, but as something that can be used for personal pleasure,” Risher said. “The long-term idea is that technology will ultimately help create a real culture of reading in parts of the world where that’s not been possible before.”
This post originally appeared on Tonic.
Editor's Note: For more information download a PDF of the "E-reader Trial Report, OrphanAid Africa School, Ayenyah, Ghana March, 2010."
Consumerism + Language dominance + Sanctimony + Colonialism = WIN!