Books for Asia Kicks Off Let’s Read! Asia Crowdfunding Campaign to Bring Children’s Digital Library to Cambodia
San Francisco, September 8, 2015 — This International Literacy Day, The Asia Foundation’s Books for Asia is launching a crowdfunding campaign to benefit the Let’s Read! Asia digital library, the international nonprofit’s first e-book donation project. A collaboration with the nonprofit Library for All, the library is one of the first of its kind in developing Asia. The project will use high-impact, low-cost technology to give children access to locally relevant reading material, allowing them to attain the most essential of childhood experiences – the magic of becoming lost in a story.
Books for Asia will pilot Let’s Read! Asia in 5 schools and 2 mobile libraries serving low-income communities in Cambodia with local partner organizations Kampuchean Action for Primary Education (KAPE) and Sipar. Each site will be equipped with Android tablets on which the digital library platform will provide access to picture books in Khmer, the country’s official language, and English. The platform is designed for developing country contexts – the library is calibrated for low-end tablets and does not require Internet access.
Cambodia is a young population, with 60 percent under the age of 30. Currently, 30 percent of Cambodians use a smart device. As smartphones and tablets become increasingly affordable, more and more people are accessing information from mobile devices. Until recently, it was very difficult to render the Khmer language digitally so very few educational resources in Khmer are available online for children. As a result, special effort was made to render Khmer correctly in the Library For All platform.
Few children’s e-books in Khmer exist so the project will license and digitize existing publications by Cambodian publishers. By participating in this project, local publishers will gain valuable experience working with e-books, receive digitized copies of their books, and have access to usage data. Since bilingual ability improves educational and employment opportunities, the library will additionally provide access to English-language and bilingual Khmer-English books.
Since 1954, Books for Asia has donated print books to thousands of needy educational institutions in 21 Asian countries each year. While print remains the most effective means of delivering information in many parts of the developing world, mobile technology’s increasing affordability suggests e-book donations hold the promise of becoming a more cost-effective, scalable model.
The Let’s Read! Asia Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign runs from September 8 to October 9, and will be marked by launch events in San Francisco and New York City. The campaign goal is $50,000. Early supporters include Air Busan, a regional South Korean airline.
The Asia Foundation is a nonprofit international development organization committed to improving lives across a dynamic and developing Asia. Informed by six decades of experience and deep local expertise, our programs address critical issues affecting Asia in the 21st century—governance and law, economic development, women’s empowerment, environment, and regional cooperation.
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