As the world commemorates the International Literacy Day today Worldreader, an international nonprofit organisation aims to expand its free digital reading program to cover more vulnerable students in Kenya, particularly those heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Worldreader is currently working with about 40 counties with its digital reading programme through schools, public and community libraries. At the onset of COVID and related school closures, Worldreader rolled out the Keep Children Reading initiative to support learners with reading at household level. To date, there are free-to-read resources available on both the BookSmart phone platform, for learners up to 12 years, and Worldreader Mobile app for students in secondary schools and young adults.
Commenting about the Initiative, Worldreader Regional Director for East Africa Joan Mwachi-Amolo said they’ve so far provided 9,755 devices that have enabled more than 90,000 Kenyan readers to access 1.9 million books digitally.
Worldreader has also partnered with 20 local publishers to digitize over 858 Kenyan books in several languages including English, Kiswahili, Dholuo, Kikamba, Giikuyu, Kisii, Embu, Giriama and Luhyia. Among the publishers are Longhorn ‐ Publishers, Mountain Top Publishers, Kenyan Literature Bureau, Moran Publishers, The Jomo Kenyatta Foundation and East African Educational Publishers.
One of the organization’s flagship programs- LEAP (Libraries, E-reading, Activities, Partnerships) partnership with the Kenya National Library Service, the entire network of 64 public libraries in Kenya The project provided libraries with 3,000 e-readers fully equipped with protective cases providing library patrons with instantaneous access to a supply of 580,000 fiction, non-fiction, genre, reference books, storybooks, plus a complete set of Kenyan digital textbooks suitable for patrons of all ages.
Worldreader offers two free solutions for students available on mobile phones. For young and primary-aged children, BookSmart gives parents, caregivers, and primary students themselves access to a library, so they can continue reading whether schools are in session or not. BookSmart starts with a free base collection – 200+ great local and international children’s books, available via the Google Play Store or web browser. The light app, optimized for all connection speeds, keeps data costs low. Books can be saved for offline reading for those with limited data.
For older students and young adults, Worldreader offers the free Worldreader Reading App,available via the Google Play Store or web browser. It features hundreds of books for learning and pleasure, in categories including Learn, Health, and Career. Books can be saved for later, limiting data use and saving costs. Over 100,000 people already read from it each month, with new readers joining each day.
“Digital solutions are key to keeping children reading as schools catch up with lost learning time. With BookSmart and the Worldreader app, parents,learners in primary schools and youth can maintain reading skills, learn new subjects, and alleviate stress during this pandemic.” said Joan Mwachi-Amolo.