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For millions of Africans, much of their daily reading and writing happens on mobile phones in the form of SMS and instant message (IM) chats. Mobiles are also increasingly being used to access long-form reading material - not only 160 character text bites. For example, projects such as Yoza Cellphone Stories, which offers downloads of stories and novels, has shown impressive uptake amongst young African readers who enjoy mobile novels or 'm-novels'. On Yoza, users not only read stories but comment and vote on them. In its first 18 months, Yoza had 470,000 complete reads of its stories and poems, as well as 47,000 user comments.
Since 2010, the non-profit organization Worldreader has provided school children in a number of developing countries with access to digital books through donated Kindle e-readers. Recently, it has begun to publish the books via a mobile phone-based e-reader. The Worldreader app and its library of stories is already on 3.9 million handsets, with active readers in Nigeria, Ethiopia and Ghana, to name a few.
In many countries, mobiles are the only channel for effectively distributing reading material, given the high cost of books and their distribution, especially to rural areas. Reading on a mobile device is different to reading in print. Mobile devices offer interactivity, the ability for readers to comment on content, the ability to connect with other readers and to publicly ask questions and receive support. Mobile devices can be used to deliver appropriate and personalized content, in ways that print books cannot. Of course, print books have their strengths - such as not having batteries that need to be recharged. A complementary approach that draws on the strengths of each - print and mobile books - is ideal.
L'une des innovations, selon Koumba Boly/Barry, sera l'introduction prochaine de tablettes électroniques dans les salles de classe pour y remplacer les livres scolaires. Bientôt donc, les élèves auront des manuels électroniques à la place des livres d'Histoire, de Mathématiques ou de Géographie en langues nationales, en français et en anglais, a expliqué le ministre en charge de l'Education. L'introduction de cet outil technologique qui sera gratuit avec l'appui de la diaspora burkinabè, de la BAD, de la Banque mondiale et de l'UNICEF, connaîtra une phase expérimentale dans des écoles et centres d'alphabétisation afin de mieux déterminer ses caractéristiques, notamment la résistance et la facilité de lecture.According to the article, it will all be funded from grants and so not cost the government anything. Hmmm.... really? And why not fund libraries first? Hmmmm....
I loved this comment:
Avant les tablettes électroniques, construisez d'abord des écoles. Dans une classe de 150 élèves avec 30 tables. Comment utiliser les tablettes. Mieux, il faut se rappeler que le burkina ne se limite pas à Ouaga seulement. Il ya des chefs de départements qui n'ont pas encore d'électricité et des écoles sous paillotes. N'en parlons pas des villages.
Donnez nous des écoles et des table-bancs. Pour les tablettes, il faut attendre en 2030. A moins que ces tablettes soient destinées aux enfants des ministres. Mais il parait qu'ils ne sont inscrits au faso ;
Also, Donkoui and I talked about the future Multimedia Center in Hounde. The FAVL staff is really enthousiast about the idea of producing micro-books locally. There is a lot of books ideas that they would like to see published and make them available for the village libraries. More information about FAVL micro-books here.
That was my
first impression after reading this Wall Street Journal article: "An E-Reader Revolution for Africa?"
Maybe I'm pulling a Sarah Erdman, author of "Nine Hills to Nambonkaha." While a great writer, I was put off by her negativity towards technology that actually facilitated and empowered the lives of Africans in rural villages (complaining about the new light posts because it diminished her views of the night sky...please).
But a Kindle for every student? I think it's fair to say that the education system in numerous African countries needs improvement, but should kindles really be at the top of the list?
Maybe it has nothing to do with my pulling an Erdman, but just about how much I romanticize real books, and my reluctance to accept that kindles are the new thing.
Or maybe, I'm just jealous.
Whatever it is, I'm really curious to see how this "one kindle per child" pans out over the next few years. How effective are they? What happens when it breaks? Are students really more engaged in their school work with a Kindle? Does using it help improve a student's academic success? Anyone doing a research project on this? Michael?
From Erica Ernst:
I am a graduate student at the University of San Francisco getting my Master's Degree in International Studies. For my Master's thesis that I will be working on this year, I will be focusing on literacy in Africa. As I'm in my beginning stages of planning my thesis in regards to literacy in Africa, I've been looking for research that has already been published on this topic.
So far one of the things I've come across was this interesting article called "Teachers' Interactions During Storybook Reading: A Rural African Perspective" (Higham, Tonsing, and Alant 2010), reporting on a study that examines how 5 rural South African teachers interact with their students while reading a storybook and their effectiveness in asking questions/doing activities that improve critical reading.
The authors of this study used a 6 level coding system that serves as a way to "rate" the interactions between teacher and the students by "cognitive level." The lower cognitive level interactions included labeling pictures or events in the book and recalling text from the last sentence (Level 1) to the interactions that required more critical thinking such as predicting what will happen next (Level 4), using the story to stimulate the children's thoughts (Level 5), and to use the story as a background to create something new (Level 6). The results were that teachers tended to use lower than higher cognitive interactions but the teachers were not completely passive as they did interact with the children by asking questions.
Achieving higher critical thinking is an area in large need of improvement in the African education system. Memorization and recitation of facts is still appears to be the educational goal rather than developing good critical thinking skills. The authors of this study also bring up the important cultural factor in many African societies where adults and children are not supposed to be on equal communicative levels, which can make it difficult to facilitate an effective dialogue about a book.
I witnessed some of these challenges during my time in the Reading West Africa study abroad program while volunteering in the Karaba village library. In addition to storybooks, games and puzzles (FAVL is great in supplying these) can be very useful in exercising critical thinking skills. I loved how our library even included a book of riddles. However, most of the riddles had been told so many times, the children had memorized all the answers and they did not do any "new" thinking, but were rewarded for simply knowing the answer. When my partner Ashley and I told a riddle that was not in the book the kids could not even make a guess, which made me wonder if they were gaining any critical thinking skills in school. Maybe we seemed intimidating as foreigners and riddles are pretty difficult, but I think this example did shed light on this problem that is very common in rural Africa that are still on the more traditional French education system. Luckily FAVL libraries are more adaptable than the government-run schools in meeting these needs, so FAVL's programs such as their read-alouds could be a very important medium to help improve critical thinking skills.
En effet, selon les résultats d'une enquête sur le livre et la lecture, conduite par le ministère de la Culture auprès d'un échantillon de 1 029 Tunisiens et publiée en janvier dernier, 3 personnes sur 4 n'ont jamais fréquenté une bibliothèque, 22,74 % n'ont jamais lu un livre, 70 % n'ont pas ouvert un bouquin au cours de l'année 2009 et 44 % ne dépensent pas plus de 30 dinars (16 euros) par an pour acquérir un ouvrage.Lire l'article.
L'initiative "École et langues nationales" (ELAN), un programme d'enseignement du français conçu par l'Organisation internationale de la francophonie (OIF), entre dans une phase de déploiement, a annoncé l'organisation jeudi 8 septembre à Paris. C'est pour mieux promouvoir le français que l'Organisation internationale de la francophonie (OIF) a décidé de s'appuyer dorénavant sur les langues nationales des pays où elle s'investit.
Six nouveaux pays d'Afrique subsaharienne francophone rejoignent le programme - le Burkina Faso, Cameroun, Mali, Niger, RDC et Sénégal - rejoignent le Bénin, Haïti, le Burundi et Madagascar, pays pionniers du programme ELAN.
Sur les 4,5 millions d'euros alloués au programme ELAN pour les trois prochaines années, 350 000 euros seront affectés à chaque pays. Un budget réparti principalement entre les frais de fonctionnement (mieux équiper les classes d'écoles) et de recrutement (renforcer les équipes de formation sur place).
Michael and the students of the Reading West Africa program are also off tomorrow for the students' last trip to village, so I'll be holding down the fort here in Ouaga until Elisee gets back from his trip to visit libraries in Ghana.