Ulaanbaatar, February 1, 2016 — Today, The Asia Foundation’s Books for Asia program; Mongolia’s Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science; and Library For All kick off Let’s Read! Mongolia, a children’s digital library that will deliver an entire library of stories into the hands of underprivileged students. This project builds upon the November 2015 launch of Let’s Read! Cambodia and a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo that kickstarted both projects. Among the guests at a recent launch event in Ulaanbaatar were Mongolia’s Minster of Education and other members of Parliament.
Let’s Read! Mongolia will use high-impact, low-cost technology to give children access to age-appropriate books in Mongolian and English. The pilot project is being implemented in 6 public secondary schools serving residents of ger districts on the outskirts of the capital, Ulaanbaatar. Half of Ulaanbaatar’s 1.5 million residents live in ger districts – residential zones occupied by rural migrants that lack access to basic public services like water, sewage systems, and central heating.
Let’s Read! runs on an Android-based library platform developed by Library For All, that enables distribution to schools of e-books in Mongolian and English. The initial library collection consists of more than 200 Mongolian and English children’s literature e-books that will be added to over time. During the pilot project, the books will be freely used by about 2,500 students from grades 5 to 9; more than 90 teachers of Mongolian and English language, literature and ICT; as well as librarians.
Books for Asia is providing teacher training, technical support, and Samsung tablet donations to the schools. Content providers include the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science; Mongolian language institute Talk Talk English; and U.S.-based publisher Hoopoe Books. The project is partly funded by Booyoung Corporation, a construction company based in South Korea.
Throughout developing Asia, quality children’s books that spark the imagination and instill a love of reading are out of reach for many children. The aim of the Let’s Read! project is to improve access to age- and culture- appropriate children’s literature in resource-poor schools, as well as foster an affinity for reading that is essential for future academic performance. In addition, in Mongolia, where English is the official foreign language, the library will be used to bolster English-language instruction at the schools.
Library For All is a nonprofit organization that has built a digital library for children in the developing world with limited access to educational materials. Since 2013, Library For All has delivered their digital library to communities in Haiti, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Cambodia, and Mongolia.
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.