CUP South Africa partners with NGO Worldreader

Interviewed for an article in The Bookseller magazine about a mobile learning project I initiated with Cambridge University Press and the NGO Worldreader.

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CUP South Africa (CUP SA) has partnered with NGO Worldreader to make content for schoolchildren freely available across sub-Saharan Africa. Worldreader has developed an e-reading app, hosted on cloud-based mobile application platform BiNu, which enables “feature phones”—those without Android or iOS operating systems, typically Nokias, which are widely used across the continent—to be used as e-reading devices.

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Pioneering Mobile Learning in Africa: A Partnership Worldreader

Mobile learning holds immense potential for enhancing education and literacy in Africa. Recognizing this potential, Cambridge partnered with the NGO Worldreader to bring educational content to schoolchildren across sub-Saharan Africa. The initiative focused on utilizing widely available feature phones as e-reading devices through an innovative e-reading app developed by Worldreader.

The Challenge

In sub-Saharan Africa, there is a need for accessible educational content, especially for young children. While feature phones are widely available across the continent, they traditionally lack the advanced functionalities of smartphones. The challenge was to leverage these feature phones for educational purposes and provide diverse language content to address the needs of children from different linguistic backgrounds.

The Solution

Worldreader developed an e-reading app hosted on the cloud-based mobile application platform BiNu, transforming feature phones into e-reading devices. Cambridge recognized the ingenuity of this development, as it meant that anyone with a feature phone could now have an e-reader simply by downloading the BiNu Worldreader app.

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The Ulwazi Programme: Bridging the Gap with Digital Skills and Local Content

The Ulwazi Programme, established in 2008 in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, is a pioneering initiative aimed at democratically co-creating cultural and historical information with local communities. Through training community members in digital media tools and web platforms, the program encourages them to contribute articles in Zulu and English about the culture and history of Durban and the eThekwini Municipality. I helped launch the project with eThekwini Municipal Libraries and ran it for several years.

Main Achievements

  • Established a digital library of local history and knowledge in English and Zulu, with over 2000 articles.
  • Trained over 20 fieldworkers in digital media management and digital skills.
  • Promoted digital and reading literacy by providing access to locally relevant resources in local languages.

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