February 21, 2019, Bengaluru & Kabul: Pratham Books’ StoryWeaver marks International Mother Language Day by opening a gateway to digital libraries in 100 languages for children across the world and thereby addressing the scarcity of books for children in their own languages.
To achieve this milestone, StoryWeaver has collaborated with a global network of individuals and organisations, including the Darakht-e Danesh Library, who are helping create this vast resource of children’s storybooks, as part of its ‘Freedom to Read’ campaign.
By leveraging technology, in the form of its free-to-use digital platform, and open licensing, which allows for the sharing of original content, StoryWeaver has accelerated the creation of quality content and launched children’s libraries in a wide range of languages: tribal Indian languages like Korku, and Pawari; relatively rare languages like Bundelkhandi, and Surjapuri; and underserved international languages like Chinyanja, and Basa Jawa. In Afghanistan, Darakht-e Danesh produced nearly 70 books in Farsi and Pashto.
The UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report reveals that 40% of the global population does not have access to education in a language they speak or understand. This translates to over 2 billion people who would benefit from having books in their mother tongues.
StoryWeaver collaborators like African Library and Information Associations and Institutions (AfLIA), describe these libraries as building literacy, as well as strengthening Africa’s cultural identity. Dr. Nkem Osuigwe, Director, Human Capacity Development & Training, AfLIA, says, “The books have knowledge that African children need – building relationships, honesty, forgiveness, respect and love for other human beings, storybooks about nature as well as storybooks that promote arts and craft. The storybooks on the (StoryWeaver) platform that amaze me most are those that have the capacity to build the curiosity of children about science, inventions, calculations and naturally occurring phenomena.”
Darakht-e Danesh Library, a digital repository of open educational resources (OERs) in Afghanistan, creates access to quality, locally adapted educational resources and supports teachers to use, adapt, create and share their own resources. They partnered with StoryWeaver to translate storybooks in Dari/Farsi and Pashto. “Afghanistan has a rich linguistic heritage spanning the literary legacies of its two official languages, to the diversity of its many minority languages,” said Lauryn Oates of the Darakht-e Danesh Library. “We have a long way to go to make sure that every child, regardless of their mother tongue, has books in their own language in their hands, but this is a start. Participating in the Freedom to Read campaign and the dozens of storybooks we translated has motivated us to build on the momentum by working to make more books available for more kids across Afghanistan going forward.”
StoryWeaver partners like Azad India Foundation (AIF) describe the frustration of not having reading resources in Surjapuri, despite it being spoken by 1.2 million people in Bihar, West Bengal, Assam and Bangladesh. Yuman Hussain, Executive Director, AIF says, “The children that we engage with at the learning centres have never seen a storybook in their mother tongue. Even my teachers haven’t read books in Surjapuri.”
Suzanne Singh, Chairperson, Pratham Books, says, “With 40% of the global population not having access to education in their first language, the issue of lack of linguistic diversity in children’s books is a serious concern. StoryWeaver was conceived to address the inequity in reading resources for children, by making quality storybooks available digitally, for free.” Adds Purvi Shah, Head - Digital Initiatives, Pratham Books, “The Freedom to Read campaign has enabled us to collaborate with organisations and individuals who share our commitment to creating high quality reading resources in children’s mother tongues.”
African Library and Information Associations and Institutions (AfLIA): Igbo, Hausa, Fante, Ewe, Yoruba, Kikuyu, Luganda and Swahili
Azad India Foundation: Surjapuri
Darakht-e Danesh Library: Pashto, Farsi
Little Readers' Nook: Kutchi Bilinguals
North East Educational Trust: Assamese and Bodo
SNS Foundation: Marwari
Suchana Uttor Chandipur Community Society: Santali, Kora, Bilinguals
REHMA: Urdu and Urdu bilinguals
Right to Play: Urdu, Kinyarwanda, Asante Twi
Unnati Institute for Social and Educational Change: Korku
Agnes N.S. Nyendwa: Chinyanja
Amit Dudave: Pawari
Ana Jovic: Serbian
Ankit Dwivedi: Bundelkhandi
Kaye Suscang: Filipino
Maharani Aulia, BE Priyanti: Basa Jawa (Javanese)
Melchiade Ntibazonkiza: Kirundi
Nguyen Dac Thai Hang: Vietnamese
Priya Bhakthan: Sanskrit
StoryWeaver (www.storyweaver.org.in) is an open source, digital platform of multilingual children’s stories from Pratham Books. On StoryWeaver users can read, create, translate, download and share stories for free! By creating a collaborative framework where the creators and consumers of children’s content could interact with one another, StoryWeaver attempted to address the scarcity of books for children. StoryWeaver was launched in 2015 with 800 stories in 24 languages. Today, the platform offers over 11,500+ stories in 146 languages.
About Pratham Books
Pratham Books (www.prathambooks.org) is a not-for-profit children’s book publisher founded in 2004 with the mission to see ‘a book in every child's hand’. Its key objective is to publish good quality, affordable storybooks in multiple languages to support reading acquisition among children. Since inception, Pratham Books has published over 3,000 books in 21 Indian languages.
About Darakht-e Danesh Library
The Darakht-e Danesh Library's mission is to provide Free and Open Educational Resources for Afghanistan. We are a digital repository of open educational resources (OERs) for teachers, students, and anyone with a curious mind who wants to learn more on a particular subject. Visit the library at www.darakhtdanesh.org or www.ddl.af