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Literacy and Social Change
Dr. Bonny Norton (FRSC), Professor & Distinguished University Scholar, UBC, Canada
What we do? Drawing on 40 illustrated stories from the open access African Storybook, we have developed a user-friendly portal for the use of these stories on mobile devices in over 30 countries on 5 continents. We have translated the stories into multiple languages, many with audio, to promote literacy and language learning. We have developed digital tools to enable users to toggle between translations of the same story, to facilitate independent learning. Stories are classified into 5 levels of difficulty, and can be downloaded in multiple formats. We have developed a user-friendly translation app so that we add new countries and languages as partnerships develop. See: globalstorybooks.net
Why we do it? UNESCO has found that 750 million youth and adults cannot read and write, while 250 million children worldwide are failing to acquire basic literacy skills. Low literacy rates are partly due to the lack of reading materials in familiar languages, which is the best way for children to learn to read and to acquire new languages. A possible solution is the provision of freely available online user-friendly reading materials in multiple languages with digital capacity for scaling up.