Access to reading and learning materials in developing countries can be difficult to obtain. With a lack of modern structures in place, the ability to overcome illiteracy and poverty is even more difficult. Without access to public learning spaces, which are often taken for granted in most developed countries, people are less likely to elevate themselves out of poverty through accessing books and other materials.
One thing that is noticeably missing in developing countries are libraries, a key source of information for many people in developing countries because they can check out the latest books, journals, and access the internet. Libraries offer a chance for people to gather and learn and encourage literacy within communities, without access to these spaces illiteracy, poverty and poor education are widespread.
According to Syracuse University School of Information Studies in New York, the top countries with access to the most libraries in their vicinity are predominately in Europe, with the least amount being largely in Africa. This may come as no surprise to many who are aware of the lack of public and social structures in the developing continent, where poor literacy rates directly correlate with lack of libraries. What is being done to alleviate this disparity between the developed and the developing?
Created by iSchool@Syracuse, Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies master of information management program
The World Literacy Foundation (WLF) is including digital libraries into classrooms throughout countries such as Uganda, which is placed 11th on the list of countries with the fewest libraries. By incorporating learning materials and a digital library onto their Sun Books Tablet, WLF found a way to offer a library to people who are in dire need of one.
With only 35% of the world’s population connected to the internet, accessing new and up-to-date material in small towns such as Gulu in Northern Uganda is not likely without access to electricity and the internet. With reliable access to the Internet not coming to these remote locations any time soon, Sun Books tablets will be a step to improve literacy rates in Uganda, with the top five countries listed on Syracuse University School of Information’s infographic having a 99% literacy rate comparable to Uganda’s at 89% for males and 85% for females. Ugandan libraries often face challenges that impede their ability to provide adequate materials, due to insufficient funding, lack of technology and improperly trained staff.
Students often have to travel far to access public libraries and then find their services lacking thus preventing them from furthering or improving their education. Sun Books tablets have found an innovative solution to the lack of access to libraries and educational resources in the community by providing a digital library that incorporates local languages and stories into a digital format. Allowing teachers to access a wide variety of materials in the local language and English, provides children in the community the opportunity to read books and learn new materials. By allowing local customs, culture and language to help shape the digital library whilst using solar energy to power the tablets, WLF has begun to bridge the gap between developed and developing countries and their access to libraries.
To find out more about Sun Books, please have a look at: www.sunbooktablet.org