Worldreader uses Whispercast to deliver thousands of books to students in sub-Saharan Africa
David Risher was inspired by a volunteer experience at an orphanage in Ecuador, where he was shown their library: a padlocked room of books with no key. Understanding the profound power of books to change people’s lives, including his own, Risher founded Worldreader, a non-profit organization whose mission is to make digital books available to the developing world, so that people can be empowered to improve their lives and those of their community.
To deliver books across sub-Saharan Africa, Worldreader partnered with Amazon to use Whispercast, a new tool that enables organizations to distribute eBooks to Kindle devices from anywhere in the world with Internet access.
Funded by its donors and partners, Worldreader has put books in the hands of over one thousand students in Africa. According to Worldreader, “Digital technology sharply lowers the cost and complexity of delivering books everywhere. As we make reading easier and less expensive, the world will read more.” Worldreader was able to deliver purchased and donated books to its students for free using Whispercast technology.
“Previously, teachers had been dependent on a small number of outdated textbooks. The e-reader allowed teachers to conduct background research, create lesson notes, and design reading comprehension assessments for students. Since their work was made more efficient and easy, teachers reported having more time to develop the quality of their lessons,” reported a USAID-funded independent evaluation of a Worldreader pilot project. Even more impressively, USAID also found that primary school students in Ghana who received e-readers showed increased performance on standardized test scores. Reading scores of primary school students who received e-readers increased from 12.9% to 15.7%, depending on whether they received any additional reading support. This represented an improvement of 4.8% to 7.6% above scores of students in control classrooms without e-readers.
Worldreader has now sent over 1.2 million digital books to children in Ghana, Kenya, and Uganda with Whispercast technology. “Having a Kindle with all your books on it is like having a library in the palm of your hand that never closes,” says Risher.