The Wall Street Journal has a lengthy report on Worldreader, the program that provides Kindles and e-books to African schools. Comparing the program to One Laptop Per Child, the article quotes people with the program and educators and students who have taken advantage of it to say that it seems to be successful so far.
One benefit of the Kindles, say the educators, is that they make it easier for the educators to use books by local authors:
Compared with traditional books, e-readers make it easy to distribute works from African authors that can be hard to get in print. Previously, Humble School’s library contained mostly books donated from America. "The first books we got were mainly about the U.S., with kids playing in ice—which our pupils would not understand," says Ester Nabwire, the school’s head teacher. "With the Kindles, there are African authors, African names which are exciting the kids."
The cost of the Kindle program—which includes the cost of the Kindles themselves—is $5 per book, compared to $1 per book from similar programs that provided printed books. However, tests showed that students using the Kindles increased their performance on standardized tests from about 13% to 16%. And the students who enjoy reading are very enthusiastic about having access to so many books so quickly.
Hopefully the program will continue to be successful. It’s good to know that e-readers can be so beneficial to needy students.
Thanks so much for writing about our coverage in WSJ and about our cause in general.
Just one clarification on the WSJ article and your article regarding our economics: our per-book costs of $5 include every single cost we have: e-readers, cases, lights, e-books, support, training, shipping… the works. It’s as though we take the whole cost of a library (bricks, construction, personnel, etc.) and apportion it to each book. Eighteen months ago those costs were $15; now (180,000 e-books later) they’re $5. So we can help with reading and education and push costs down simultaneously, which is the true equation for long-term success and sustainability.