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Access and distribution

Examine how storybooks are accessed and distributed in the global South.

Report on the EdTech Hub Sandbox: Radio Program for Early Primary Literacy in the Lango Sub-region September – December 2020

As schools in Uganda closed down in late March 2020 due to Covid-19, Mango Tree Literacy Lab (MTLL) had to reconsider its 2020 work plan. When the Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) published its “Framework for the Provision of Continued Learning During the Covid-19 Lockdown in Uganda” and began radio education programs in the Lango Sub-region, MTLL decided to develop our own radio education programming focused on literacy instruction for children in P1-P3, an area of the curriculum that the MoES was not able to address because it required creating materials in multiple local languages. With no dedicated funding for this, MTLL partnered with Radio Q FM, a local radio station, who generously agreed to provide MTLL with one hour every Saturday for no charge.
In May 2020, Mango Tree, together with Ichuli Institute, responded to a call by the EdTech Hub for non-internet education innovations that addressed the Covid-19 crisis. Upon selection to participate, MTLL ran a “Sandbox” (short experimental pilot) in the four districts of Alebtong, Dokolo, Kole and Otuke, in the Northern Uganda Lango sub-region from September to December.

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Closed or open? Ubongo’s switch from copyright protected to Creative Commons licensing

Ubongo is a non-profit social enterprise, originating from Tanzania and with staff across Africa, which produces edutainment content for kids and caregivers. Ubongo has two main cartoon shows: Ubongo Kids and Akili and Me. Ubongo Kids focuses on science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and life skills for children in primary school (seven years old and up), while Akili and Me is aimed at promoting learning readiness for pre-primary children.

Almost all of Ubongo’s content was copyright protected until 2020. This brief tells the story of Ubongo’s decision to switch from copyright protected licensing to Creative Commons (CC) licensing, why, and the possible ramifications for open educational resources (OER) more broadly.

Case Study on Open Licensing of Early Grade Textbooks in Uganda

This case study tells the story of a small Ugandan NGO’s experience using openly licensed government primers to support early primary literacy. Mango Tree Literacy Lab  (MTLL) believes that African children have the right to read, write and engage with ideas in a language they know and understand. MTLL aspires to work side by side with government to ensure successful implementation of innovative education policies, making mistakes and learning within the constraints of real-world challenges. This case study describes how MTLL began to explore how the open licensing of national literacy materials could be harnessed to print additional copies for schools with insufficient numbers of usable primers.

The Use and Dissemination of Openly Licensed Storybooks and Learning Materials by Mango Tree Literacy Lab, Lira, Uganda

Mango Tree Literacy Lab (MTLL) is a Ugandan NGO that believes that African children have the right to read, write and engage with ideas in a language they know and understand. Since 2010, Mango Tree has been supporting early primary literacy in the Lango Sub-region of northern Uganda. This project case study is on the use and dissemination of openly licensed storybooks and learning materials.This project has provided the opportunity to learn about the impact open licensing could have on the distribution of MTLL's literacy materials as well as experiment with establishing a local market for our storybooks through sales by local vendors.

More information about MTLL’s work can be found on its website, as well as on its Facebook page and YouTube channel.

Librarians, Communities and Open Licensing: How Do the Pieces Fit Together?

This presentation was delivered delivered on 22 May, 2019 at the 3rd African Library & Information Association (AfLIA) Conference and 5th African Library Summit, held at the Weston Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya. The theme of the conference was ‘African libraries creating the Africa we want and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals’.

This presentation is not a comprehensive review. We are focusing on two areas on which we are working:

  • Collaboration with AfLIA and university librarians by OER Africa, an initiative of Saide
  • Work by Neil Butcher & Associates (NBA) on promoting early literacy in mother-tongue languages
  • Open licensing and the importance of librarians to these efforts tie the two examples together and demonstrate how much librarians can contribute

Report on a Workshop on Open Licensing and Digital Disruption in Early Literacy in the Developing World

In 2015, NBA received a grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to explore the potential for open licensing in enhancing the availability of mother-tongue early-literacy reading resources in the developing world. This research covered the impact of open licensing on the early reader ecosystem, emerging innovations, and the implications for the supply and use of early literacy reading materials in low income countries. In late 2016, NBA received a follow-on grant to continue this work and carry out both desk case studies and action research in a few countries. The work being carried out by NBA complements the Global Book Alliance (GBA), which is led by the US Agency for International Development and other donors. The GBA is a multi-stakeholder, international effort to transform book development, procurement, distribution and usage to get books for more children, through new solutions and innovations.

As part of the NBA grant, this workshop brought together key players in the field as part of the process, to create a forum for key players in early literacy from the global South to exchange ideas and develop a shared action research agenda for open licensing in early literacy.

Community Libraries Action Research in Ethiopia and Uganda: Review Report

With funding from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and as part of its work on the early literacy ecosystem and open licensing, Neil Butcher & Associates (NBA) is conducting research into the successful sharing of alternative content creation and distribution models that harness open licensing. One project contributing to this research is the role of community libraries in creating high quality children’s stories written in local languages, and making these accessible with an open licence. NBA’s goal is to contribute to enhancing the availability of children’s books in mother‐tongue languages in Africa, using open licensing. This report by Ken Harley is a review of two projects – one in Uganda and one in Ethiopia.

Landscape Report on Early Grade Literacy

This Landscape Report on Early Grade Literacy takes stock of where we are, as a global community of educators within the field of international development, in improving literacy acquisition in the early grades in low-income countries. Hence, the purpose of the report is to review relevant, recent research coming principally from developing country contexts on efforts to improve early grade literacy learning and instruction. The scope of this report includes reviewing evidence from the field on (1) what has worked in developing countries; (2) what practices show promise at this point even if the available evidence is not yet definitive; and (3) what the gaps in the literature/evidence base are. Within these large and overarching goals, topics of examination and discussion include:

  • Cross cutting aspects in literacy instruction: Instructional time, assessment, and teaching and learning materials, including ICTs
  • Skill building in the following areas: emergent literacy, oral language, reading fluency, reading comprehension, and early writing.
  • Literacy acquisition in multilingual contexts
  • Teacher knowledge, and teacher education practices
  • Parental and community engagement
  • Long-run considerations: costs, financing, scaling up, and sustainability of literacy programs

Educational Textbook Procurement in Developing Countries: How to get the best textbooks and create a national book culture

Every citizen has the right to education and culture. Their books must reflect their values and culture and must be relevant to their living circumstances. Only skilled local authors can address such needs. And only a publishing industry based on a multitude of local, autonomous, entrepreneurial publishers can develop the content that gives a nation a distinctive voice, to preserve and develop its own national identity.

Educational publishing is a key sector. Around the world, a healthy, vibrant and dynamic local publishing industry is unthinkable without an equally healthy, vibrant and dynamic educational publishing sector. Its health forms the economic basis for publishing as a whole. Throughout the developing world, local publishing is often threatened by misguided policies.

Libraries as Agents for Sustainable Development

The library is an institution that meets people’s information needs. This has been its role historically: providing a place for people to visit, ask questions, and access and use information resources. In doing so, libraries have long enabled people of all ages to learn and improve their lives. Public libraries have the particular role of meeting community-specific requirements. By applying their existing resources -- including technology infrastructure, knowledgeable staff, and social space -- public libraries are able to offer a range of services that address the economic, health, educational, and civic needs of their users. In doing so, libraries can support the Sustainable Development Goals by acting as agents of change at the local level.