2014 has been an incredible year for Library For All and our team. With your help, we have gone from strength to strength, and have learnt so much in the process to improve our digital library platform and unlock knowledge across the developing world. 2015 is undoubtedly going to be our biggest year yet, but before we get ahead of ourselves….here are some of our highlights from 2014:
Launch of Android App in Haiti
We spent the first eight months of the year building the Android version of our app, which was released on September 15th in Haiti. To build the app, we took all the lessons from our pilot at Respire School (you can read the report here). The app was released in partnership with Digicel, the largest telecommunications provider in Haiti. Digicel has zero-rated the app (making it free to download books across their network), and we identified 10 school sites to be the first to receive access.
Our goal was to have over 1,000 quality resources in the Haitian library, and our app is now filled with 1,162 ebooks and digital educational resources in Haitian Creole, French, English and some Spanish. These resources have been curated by our Director of Educational Resources and pulled from major international publishers, open educational resources, and local language (Creole) publishers. They have all been vetted by our Haitian Advisory Board and sorted into their appropriate age groups and subjects. All the content can be searched and read offline, and new content can be downloaded when connected to the Internet.
We are slowly getting students and schools connected and with that, seeing their reading data on our backend. Our school partners have been incredibly patient as we continue to improve the system and resolve bugs. Along with that, comes further iterations of the app and modification and addition of content per our users’ requests. We look forward to creating the most optimal app and library for all of our Haitian students in 2015!
Launch of a pilot program in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
One of our most exciting ventures, and a model partnership for expansion, is happening with En Classe at two schools in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. The DRC was not on our strategic path, but it’s a country where we found a very dedicated partner in the Dutch organization En Classe. En Classe have invested their funds to help us improve the app, and also agreed to take on the in-country responsibilities of implementing the library. In turn, we dedicated our team to finding high-quality resources targeted at beginner readers in French and Lingala. We have also collaborated closely on the of customization of the app for the learning environment in the DRC.
We’re excited to report that En Classe has conducted six teacher trainings using the library at Kapini school in Kinshasa, and is preparing to have the students begin reading shortly. Teacher training has also begun at another school in their network. Beyond conducting teacher trainings, En Classe has also developed a partnership with Samsung for the educational tablets and World Vision to implement a literacy test with the students. The baseline literacy test has been completed, and will be taken again at the end of the school year. The hope is that increased access to our digital resources will have boosted the students’ literacy scores!
This model is exciting as it is easily replicable for us in other countries with other interested implementation partners across the developing world (stay tuned for more info, or reach out to ushere)!
Echoing Green Fellowship and Points of Lights Civic Accelerator
It was an extraordinary honor this year for Rebecca and me to have been selected as Echoing GreenFellows for the class of 2014. Echoing Green looks for passionate social entrepreneurs with world-changing ideas, and only 1.5% of applicants make the cut. The fellowship has already taken us around the world to learn about educational models in India and Rwanda. We have also benefited from EG’s relationships and reputation with donors and foundations, and guidance from their extensive network of current and past fellows.
Our Director of Business Development, Isabel Sheinman, was also accepted into the highly competitivePoints of Light Civic Accelerator program. PoL is the first startup accelerator program focused on “civic ventures” – enterprises that inspire, equip and mobilize people to create positive change. Isabel is taking part in a 12-week boot camp dedicated to boosting early-stage ventures that are creating greater, more accessible pathways to economic opportunity for communities.