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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The eThekwini Municipality Digital Skills in Schools Project

In an increasingly digital world, equipping students with ICT skills is critical. With funding assistance from the Goethe Institut, the eThekwini Municipality Digital Skills in Schools Project aimed to address the ICT skills gap among the youth in the township and rural areas in South Africa. The project focused on enhancing students’ digital skills and encouraging them to explore their history and culture through digital storytelling.

The Challenge

In township and rural schools of the eThekwini Municipality, there was a distinct lack of opportunities for students to acquire ICT skills. Additionally, many students had limited exposure to their own history and culture. The project aimed to tackle these issues by providing digital skills training and encouraging students to explore their cultural heritage.

The Solution

The project was rolled out in four township and rural schools, two in the second semester of 2011 and two in the first semester of 2012. It consisted of a task-based section and an online e-learning component.

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