December 3, 2021
Just in time for International Day of Persons with Disabilities, All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development (ACR GCD) innovator eKitabu has released two new accessible ebooks as part of its creation of more than 250 books for free use in Tumbuka, a local spoken language in Malawi, and Malawian Sign Language: Kuyowoyiskana na amama wane (Talking with my Mum) and Lungu wakurya vipaso (What is Lungu eating). The books include audio descriptions of the pictures as well as narration of the stories.
In Malawi, the problem of access to high-quality, accessible books in local languages for pre-primary and primary grades is particularly acute, with very few story books existing in Tumbuka, a language spoken by more than 2 million people in northern Malawi. When the project began, none of those books were in accessible formats; and no materials in Malawian Sign Language (MSL) existed at all.
eKitabu is scaling work begun in Kenya and Rwanda through ACR GCD’s Book Boost and Sign On For Literacy prizes to implement the Open Books Malawi initiative. The project is delivering the books to the Global Digital Library, which already houses more than 120 accessible African EPUBs digitized by eKitabu, as well as posting them on eKitabu’s digital platform.
Millions of children have little to no books in languages they use and understand, thereby limiting their right to literacy and quality education. For the more than 93 million children with disabilities, the shortage of books is even more severe, as resources, if available at all, often lack accessible formats. Literacy is a cornerstone of development, placing children on a path for future success in school, employment, health and society.
Research shows that children experience greater reading success when learning in their local spoken or signed language. Providing engaging and accessible books in these underserved languages is essential to empowering and supporting these children on their path to literacy.
The Open Books Malawi initiative is part of the Begin with Books prize, a collaboration between ACR GCD and the Global Book Alliance (GBA). Four teams of innovators are participating in the prize, which challenges global innovators to assemble cost-effective packages of high quality, accessible titles in more than 30 underserved spoken and signed languages. Learn more about the challenge and eKitabu’s Open Books Malawi initiative.