Over 1.5 billion children have been impacted by school closures worldwide due to the current crisis. Among those who have faced disruption to their education through movement restrictions are my siblings.
That had been the case until recently, when I received an email from David Risher, the founder and CEO of Worldreader, a non-profit organisation which promotes digital literacy with operations in Kenya, Ghana, Spain, the UK and India.
He informed me of Keep Children Reading, a rapid-response campaign providing free digital books. Seeing that the health crisis has morphed into a learning crisis, Worldreader introduced the BookSmart remote learning app.
It carries digital books on a variety of subjects and themes, all available free of charge. It is designed for use on basic cellphones with a 2G internet connection. Parents are capitalizing on this to read aloud to their children.
Caregivers and teachers in India, the Middle East and Latin America are already harnessing this technology to bridge the learning gap. I have previously partnered with the Angama Foundation in programs to shore up a reading culture in the Mara. As such, I took up the challenge as soon as I became aware of this opportunity.
My own library is active and is stocked frequently with new downloads. So I started to share the app with my friends and neighbors. This has created a network of virtual libraries. As it is, I have sent it to 20 families in my community. I aim to reach more than 100 more.
Whether it’s holiday time or you are giving your kids a wonderful safari treat, you always want to keep them engaged.
Sometimes, leveraging distance learning means ensuring high return rates once schools reopen. Even more so for vulnerable children, especially girls. For instance, there was a notable spike in teenage pregnancies in Liberia following a compulsory eight-month holiday in the wake of the 2014 Ebola outbreak.
That said, staying safe and healthy with our families is our first priority. Stay at home now to travel tomorrow.
Note from the Editor:
Joel is a Journalist, Economist and Author based in the Mara. He began writing the moment he began to read. He is passionate about creating reading spaces and loves to dance with words.