Literacy Bridge’s Talking Book is an audio computer that delivers health and agriculture lessons and information to remote, rural communities in which many individuals are illiterate. The device, which contains a battery that lasts for approximately 25 hours, requires no training and no literacy or numeracy skills, as it talks users through the instructions in the local language. Thus, every member of the household can listen to the messages together or utilize the device for his or her specific needs.
Launched in 2007, Talking Book has reached about 4,500 households in 50 villages of rural Ghana (as of December 2014). For the messages, Literacy Bridge coordinates with local communities and the Ministry of Agriculture to encourage up-to-date and culturally relevant farming methods, and with UNICEF to promote 10 key health behaviors. Most of the listeners are farmers who make less than $1 a day, but many have reported surpluses after utilizing the techniques taught in Talking Book messages, allowing them to pay for health care or children’s education. These lessons, which can be delivered in the form of interviews, songs, dramas, or personal stories, are developed by expert partners, recorded, loaded in through a laptop, and updated every six weeks; then, community agents, or people who live in the communities, distribute the devices, and collect them again when time comes for the messages to be updated. Although Talking Books were originally sold to anyone, Literacy Bridge soon recognized the necessity of this strong infrastructure to continuously update the educational content in order for the device to be effective, so it has since partnered with organizations to distribute them to specific target communities.
Literacy Bridge can also immediately see statistics on usage, such as how many hours a week a household listens to Talking Book or which messages on the device are listened to most often. In addition, Talking Book has a recording feature that allows users to request additional lessons on specific topics or leave their own messages and feedback that the implementers can listen to when the devices are collected.
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Scale40,000 total individuals in 4,500 households reached
More than 750,000 minutes of messages listened per monthDecember, 2014
Talking Book began in nine communities in Ghana in 2007. Since partnering with UNICEF, the program has expanded to about 50 communities in rural Ghana to reach a total of 4,500 households, or 40,000 individuals.
For 2015 and 2016, Literacy Bridge has established a goal to expand to more areas in Ghana and in other countries and to tailor content that would be appropriate for such expansion. It also hopes to further develop surveys and monitoring and evaluation strategies.
Monitoring & EvaluationYes
Literacy Bridge gathers statistics on usage when it collects Talking Books, including data on how many hours on week users are listening to the device and what form of messaging is listening to most often (i.e. songs, interviews, or stories), as well as user feedback that has been recorded on the device.User satisfactionNo
Surveys conducted by Literacy Bridge have shown several results including:
- 75 percent of listeners can recall Talking Book messages accurately
- 80 to 90 percent adopt lessons they learn from Talking Book messages
- Many report a 40 to 50 percent increase in crop yields in their first year of using Talking Book