14 May 2012

The amazing eLibrary Project

Three weeks ago, my wife and I was driving though the North West Province, and since the scenery isn't really anything to write home about, we discussed some of the different ways how all the people of beautiful South Africa could be helped. This happens quite often, seeing as she a teacher who loves education and kids and I like to argue.

My conclusion was that if every single South African were functionally literate, we would be unstoppable. If you can read and thus expand your mind, you can learn any new skill. If you can read you know what's going on in the country and your community. You can then make informed decisions. The biggest hurdle has always been the costs involved. Let's face facts, books are expensive. If an average person must decide between dinner and a book, 99% would choose the dinner. That is understandable, since you have to eat. Poverty is a bastard.

I have always thought that the Amazon Kindle would be a brilliant device in helping unlock the potential in Africa. I've had one for two years now and they are brilliant.They aren't that expensive, they are easy to use and the battery lasts for months. The eBooks are quite a bit cheaper for the most part as well. I was quite pleasantly surprised when I received an email from a  Kelly Ansara from over at It's a Book Thing this morning, urging me to go and check out the eLibrary Project. It's a project to measure the impact and feasibility of supplying and using eReaders in Education in South Africa.

And they are doing it correctly as far as I can see by testing the impact in an underprivileged school, namely St Francis College in Benoni. I have heard of a few Private Schools where the kids have to buy iPads, but lets face it - if you can attend a Private School your education and future is kind of assured and an iPad a cheap toy. The iPad is being used as a fad. The Kindle is different. The textbooks will be cheaper, freeing up money to use elsewhere. As they say, there is loads of classic novels that's free from Amazon, which makes these eReaders the perfect vehicle for delivery of said knowledge.

If they can get the South African publishers to supply textbooks in electronic format, and maybe get Amazon to supply the needy with refurbished Kindles at a discounted price, we will be well on our way to achieving new heights of readers in South Africa. If some Big Businesses buys into this with sponsorships, it will work. We can't just leave it to Government. Go check them out and help if you can. This project can change the world.

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