Social Innovation in Africa: When a Young Girl and Prime Minister Share a Vision to Fight Illiteracy
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
When Mery, an 11-year-old student in the rural Arusha region of Tanzania, flips the digital pages of her e-reader, she sees a world of possibilities. She reads stories in Swahili and English, shares information with her mother and imagines where life will take her. She dreams of being a pilot so she can see the world she’s reading about in her favorite book,The World Atlas.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, when Tanzania’s Prime Minister Mizengo Kayanza Peter Pinda sees children like Mery reading a Kindle, he dreams of another way for his Eastern African country, a way paved with potential. The sentiment was so strong that it sparked a personal promise to empower children and families across the nation.
“The cost of an e-reader program cannot be compared to the cost of another generation of illiterate and semi-literate children,” Prime Minister Pinda said to more than 2,000 people attending the community event at the Nangana and Nambala schools, where Worldreader recently launched e-reader literacy programs. “I am going to personally oversee this program in a school I sponsor, and will ask my ministers to support this program throughout Tanzania.”
In both cases, the vision presents two sides of the same coin: How can access to books simultaneously fight illiteracy and drive social innovation in Africa and other parts of the developing world?