The initiative is aimed at giving all mobile phone users an opportunity to access books on their phones and encourage the habit of reading.
This is made possible through ‘Worldreader mobile’, a mobile phone app, available over 2G connectivity to 80% of the developing world via simple feature phones, to help people make decisions, learn, grow and change their lives.
With the mission to eradicate illiteracy by delivering the largest culturally relevant library to people who have no books, digitally and inexpensively, Worldreader Ghana started with e-readers on the iREAD programme in primary schools making reading more attractive and friendly to children and to empower pupils to develop the habit of reading.
Once children are active readers, they could together with their families continue to access reading content via the Worldreader Mobile app.
Early Results from the IREAD programme
Results from Worldreader’s iREAD program in Ghana showed:
A dramatic increase in children’s access to books: from owning 3 books to accessing 107 books, increased performance on standardized test: children scored up to 13% higher on reading Comprehension and an increased enthusiasm towards reading: students downloaded over 6,000 additional free books.
According to a UNESCO report, there are over 200 million children living in sub-Saharan Africa areas where delivery of printed books is non-existent or too expensive, and there are over 774 million youth and adults across the world that are illiterate.
A co-founder of Worldreader, Mr Colin McElwee in an interview with the Daily Graphic said that since Worldreader began in 2010, 348,000 people read each month from a library of 5000 books in 27 countries on the app.
“Currently, active readers on Worldreader Mobile are 335,000 where as active Readers on E-Readers are 13,596.” He said.
Mr McElwee also mentioned that there were 2,300 books available on Worldreader Mobile, 2,700 on E-Readers, 4,200 digitized books in twenty three African languages and English.
An online survey of 24,000 Worldreader Mobile phone readers showed that 90% of the cellular phone readers are between the ages of 16-35, 70% of intense readers are female while 95.3% of the app users believe that their cellular phone is a tool for learning as they rank education above their own health in order of importance.
More than a quarter of these readers use their cellular phones to read stories to their children, and also allow them to read from the phones.
From the survey, 87% stated that reading on their mobile helps them with their job/career, and that reading on their mobile improved their lives.
The Worldreader programme is sustained on funding from the sale of Worldreader Kits to other organizations, donations from individuals, governments and corporations including
USAID, UNESCO, Vodafone Americas Foundation, and Microsoft Alumni Foundation.