Literacy skills are one of the most powerful tools that enable people to lift themselves out of poverty. But today, nearly 17% of the world’s adult population is still not literate; two thirds of them women, making gender equality even harder to achieve.
Reading is one of the best ways to help students improve these skills, but for families around the world living on less than $1 a day, books are an unaffordable luxury.
To overcome this barrier, Worldreader devised a mobile app that gives anyone with a phone, tablet, or e-reader access to over 40,000 free book titles in over 43 different languages. With many African schools equipped with few or no books, the availability of digital books has been transformational.
For women like Margaret in Kenya, attending school was not an option so she missed out on learning even the most basic literacy skills. Unable to read or write, Margaret took a job as a cleaner in a local nursery school and spent days watching the small children learn. This is what inspired her to become a teacher, but first she would have to start her learning too.
She began classes at an Adult Learning Centre, quickly adopting the skills she would need to become a qualified teacher and achieving her dream. However, once Margaret was at the front of the classroom, she quickly realised the cost and lack of access to books were a barrier to her student’s education, so she turned to the Worldreader reading app. “Everything you want to learn, you can find it in the phone,” she said.
Margaret now uses her mobile phone to lead lessons and engage students in the classroom. Her students can access thousands of ebooks for free on their mobiles for just a few cents a week of data cost in an in environment where a single physical book can often cost $5 or more.
“They tell me, ‘Teacher, we want to know more, we want to know more!’,” Margaret says.