Novel idea to spread reading material

Novel idea to spread reading material

A Siem Reap-based NGO recently unveiled a novel initiative which will provide high quality educational books to children in developing countries globally.

The scheme is run by Open Equal Free, which was founded in 2011 and now runs the world’s largest educational news site and lesson plan database for educators in the developing world, with a section specifically aimed at those working in Cambodia.

Last month it launched its campaign, Literacy for Anywhere, which seeks to provide educational reading material for the world’s 260 million children who have limited access to books in their native languages.

Michael Jones, the executive director of Open Equal Free, said the idea for the project originated during his time working in rural Cambodia three years ago.

“I worked with a small NGO that supported an even smaller library,” he said. “I started talking to a scholar of Cambodian language who told me he had visited the library and was impressed. In fact, he said, it was possibly the world’s largest collection of Cambodian children’s literature.

“I was shocked. That library, which was about the size of a small kitchen back home, probably held the largest collection of native language books a Cambodian child could ever hope to see. I had also been on book buying trips only to realise that there were hardly any options for expanding the library, and no good ones.”

Literacy for Anywhere is addressing this dearth of educational materials in developing countries by creating fifty translatable, high-quality books that can be downloaded free of charge, allowing educators to print books in their native languages at a fraction of the cost of producing them from scratch. The program will also make it possible for organisations to make books for students whose native languages are obscure or lack national support.

Jones said, “We hope to print a run of the first book in Khmer next month and the full series should be finished and distributed in time for the next Cambodian school year. The books will be about topics that are difficult to teach or explain without pictures and supplemental materials. The kinds of learning experiences we take for granted back home – learning about far away plants, animals, and peoples – will now be available in classrooms all over Cambodia.”

The nature of Literacy for Anywhere means that even small NGOs can have access to the books.

“We aren’t restricting the first set of books to Siem Reap,” he said. “There are organisations working with schools in very remote parts of the country that would take us thousands of dollars to locate and identify. Our goal is to make it so that these organisations can take matters into their own hands, printing or sourcing these books for a few hundred dollars per library rather than waiting for some international NGO to finally notice them or the village they work with.”

Open Equal Free is now raising further funds for its Literacy for Anywhere program and has plans to add specially designed low-ink editions and smart phone editions of the books.

More information about the project can be found at www.indiegogo.com/projects/literacy-for-anywhere.

MOST VIEWED

  • Serious flooding across country

    The Kampong Speu provincial Committee for Disaster Management on Wednesday issued an alert after non-stop heavy rain caused widespread flooding. In Koh Kong province, authorities are working with the disaster committee and the Cambodian Red Cross to assist those affected after more than 350 homes were

  • CNRP points to King in call for vote boycott

    Leaders of the former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) have taken a new tack in their call for a boycott of the national elections later this month. They are now claiming that the people should follow the King, who is expected to abide by tradition

  • Actress’s NGO takes heat for promoting the ruling party

    An actress’s NGO which participated in an election campaign event contrary to the Law on Association and Non-Governmental Organisations (Lango) has been slammed. Chorn Chanleakena, a celebrity and the president of the Association of Artists Volunteering to Help Society, allegedly led its members in

  • Troop moves ‘won’t worry people’

    Senior officials at the Ministry of Defence and National Police said on Tuesday that riot training provided to the country’s police forces were aimed at preventing unexpected demonstrations and strikes before and after the July 29 national elections. The troop mobilisation, they said, would not