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Ebooks for Africa


I just received an e-mail from Kindle All-Star supremo and general nice guy Bernard Schaffer to say that he has been approached by the Worldreader charity to see if we’d mind supplying the second Kindle All-Stars short story collection, Carnival of Cryptids, for inclusion in their projects.

Worldreader supplies e-readers and digital books to children in Africa in a bid to increase literacy.

Of course, we’ve all said yes.

Here’s some information from the charity about what they do and how our short stories would be used:

Our team did a recent e-reader launch in conjunction with the Nelson Mandela African Institute for Science & Technology (located in the Tenguru community of Arusha). 300 e-readers were placed in two neighbouring primary public schools: Nganana & Nambala. The two schools have a combined enrollment of 800-1,000 pupils. Prior to the launch the two schools had fewer than 50 copies of all the essential text books; last week we increased that capacity to 30,000 e-books (with many Tanzania-approved textbooks).
 
This launch has received a lot of political attention, most notably from the Prime Minister of Tanzania who not only attended the launch, but also met with us to discuss a massive roll-out of e-readers in this country (particularly in his own school). The Prime Minster spoke for over 30 minutes about his enthusiasm for the programme. At a personal level he announced he would rather put e-books into the school that he is funding than build a library, and at a national level he has asked Minister Mbarawa to give the government’s full support. With a whole nation focused on the mass failures in the Form IV Certificate of Secondary Education examinations results of this year, the Prime Minister declared that ‘We can afford the burden of purchasing e-readers, but we can’t afford the burden of an illiterate society.”


So on the one hand I’m delighted that something that I’ve written will be made available as part of a literacy programme, and on the other I am slightly taken aback by the idea that we have reached a stage where a government would rather buy e-readers than build a library in a school. We are clearly living in the future.

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