Worldreader

Worldreader provides e-readers and e-books to schools, libraries, and communities in sub-Saharan Africa where printed books are either not available or prohibitively expensive. Their e-book packages also come with training and technical support.
2010Ghana

CEI Plus Status

Program Results Status
Monitoring and Evaluation Reporting

Location Data

Arusha, Tanzania (Usa River area)Nairobi, Kenya (Haruma Informal Settlement)Lukojjo village, Mpoma parish, Nama county, Munono District, UgandaMaai Mahiu, KenyaBulawayo, ZimbabweKibera, Nairobi, KenyaKilgoris, Kenya (southwestern Kenya)Koru, KenyaPeri-Urban, Rural, UrbanUgandaTanzaniaRwandaKenyaEthiopia

Worldreader is a non-profit organization whose mission is to make digital books available to students and their families in the developing world. As of February 2013, Worldreader has distributed 3,000 e-readers with access to over 441,000 e-books across ten e-reader projects in six African countries (Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Ethiopia). Worldreader distributes “Worldreader kits” that contain 50 e-readers, 5,000 e-books, cables, protective shock-resistant polyethylene "skins," zip-around protective cases, book lights, printed training materials, pre-deployment support, shipping to a port in Africa, and post-deployment support. Worldreader deploys e-readers in three different ways:

  • e-readers are sent directly to schools and remain in schools over night
  • e-readers are sent directly to schools but students are able to take them home overnight, thereby allowing other family members access to e-readers (on average each e-reader reaches 2-3 people in this model)
  • e-readers are sent to be used in shared environments such as community libraries. Using this deployment strategy, Worldreader targets underserved schools that cannot afford enough textbooks.

In addition to providing e-readers, Worldreader seeks to build capacity in the communities where it works, providing technical and pedagogical training for project managers and local teachers so that they are able to use the e-readers to maximize student literacy outcomes. Local businesses are also taught to repair e-readers. Worldreader is donor-funded and partner-supported. It works with sponsoring organizations to close the gap between the cost of devices and books, and the price that communities can pay, until costs become more affordable. The initial batch of e-readers were purchased at full price, the following batch was purchased at a discount, and the following was donated by Amazon. Worldreader also has an initiative with Amazon where consumers can donate their e-readers to Worldreader when they upgrade to new ones. Funders or partners who express an interest in sponsoring schools are linked to schools who have expressed a desire to purchase an e-reader kit but do not have the resources to afford one.

In addition to providing access to e-books through e-readers, Worldreader has also partnered with biNu, an App developer based in Sydney. This technology allows e-books to be read on feature phones (basic mobile phones that can run an app that simulates smart phone features), which are widely owned in the developing world. As of January 2013, the Worldreader Mobile app is on 4.5 million phones, mostly in Asia and Africa, and the program hopes to reach 10 million by the end of 2013. Half a millions readers use the Worldreader Mobile app each month. Finally, many of the e-books in Worldreader’s programs are developed by African publishers and authors. Students especially at young ages are more engaged with stories that are familiar to them. Similarly, local schools prefer to work with local textbooks, so Worldreader partners with African publishing partners to make their books available to students on e-readers through the Worldreader Mobile app. Worldreader also provides access to international e-books, donated for free by American and European publishers. Worldreader has opted to pay African publishers, rather than rely solely on donated books, in order to support local businesses.

Who we work with: