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International nonprofit promotes digital books in developing countries

April 23, 2012

Earlier today, I came across a blog post about Worldreader, an international nonprofit whose mission is to make digital books available to children in the developing world. The post was an update about Worldreader’s project at the Humble United Methodist School in Uganda. The plan was to donate 100 Kindles to Humble and introduce them to elementary school students. The Crossroads United Methodist Church in Ashburn, Virginia, sponsored the project.

According to Worldreader, Humble has already seen exciting results in the weeks since the Kindles arrived.

Here are some examples from a list that Ugandan project manager, Bernard Opio, submitted to Worldreader:

  • [The pupils] are improving their English speaking skills as they read and listen to their teachers. They have also learned how to pronounce different words which they could not pronounce before. For example, Mercy Anyango could not pronounce the word ”cooperation” or “colonialism,” but she now can.
  • The pupils are now able to use the world atlas… This has been of great importance, and it has made the teacher’s work in P4, P5 and P6 easier.
  • Using the Kindle, the kids have improved their vocabulary by playing games, especially those that help them to form words. Prisca Acheng, a P5 student, was able to complete the jig-saw. She was very excited, and this encouraged others to continue trying on the same.
  • They enjoy reading the interesting stories during leisure time.
  • It has greatly improved the students’ ability to count numbers by playing Number Slides.
  • The use of the dictionary has greatly helped students learn the meanings of new words. The teachers have also encouraged the pupils to look out for new words during lessons.
  • The playing of puzzle games has improved their puzzle knowledge.    

While there are still challenges to the adoption of e-readers and digital books in most of the developing world, it’s possible to see a remarkable future in these results. After all, tablets, e-readers, and Kindles are more than books: They’re digital tools that can help teach children learn math as well as reading – and many other subjects. Opio’s comments and observations about the use of the world atlas, as well as number and puzzle games shows the versatility of the e-readers as learning tools.

What do you think? Is this still just a niche project or a sign of what’s to come – in developing nations as well as the United States? Please let us know in the comments section.

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