This project was initiated by: The Asia Foundation – Thailand

The Asia Foundation has worked in Thailand since 1954. In cooperation with partners in government, civil society, academia, and the private sector, the Foundation promotes peaceful conflict resolution, encourages citizen engagement in the political process, promotes access to information and supports innovative programs that help to build more responsive and transparent systems of governance throughout the country.

The Asia Foundation – Thailand has been endorsed by:

Let’s Read!


Project Summary

The Let's Read! Unique initiative provides children with access to high quality books, in an array of languages, including minority languages, motivating children to develop literacy skills.

Problem

Asia is home to over two thousand minority languages whose speakers are among the region’s most marginalized populations. Mother tongue-based education, in which students begin their education in the same language that is spoken in their home and community before transitioning to a more widely used national language, is the key to improving educational outcomes and economic opportunities. Nonetheless, few mother tongue reading resources exist and even fewer are accessible by those with special needs. A good example of this is the S’gaw Karen minority language group who are scattered throughout the hills of Northern Thailand. This language group struggles to teach reading in their mother-tongue in part because of a lack of high quality, accessible books. This is a situation that effects many minority language groups in Thailand and the region, including Malay languages in the south, Karen languages in the north and Khmer languages in the northeast.

Solution

Let’s Read! helps bridge the gap between the need for accessible, portable, compelling books to motivate children to develop literacy skills and the means to efficiently create them at low cost. Content is added to the digital, mobile-first platform through a create, convert and adapt approach. Local authors and illustrators create culturally relevant books and existing local content is converted to digital format through the platform. The adapt feature is particularly innovative as it leverages the collective knowledge of the community to smooth the translation process. Books are accessed through a simple Android app, with online/offline functionality, or the web, with the ability to print for completely non-digital environments. Local organizations are engaged to facilitate the creation of reading programs and community events. The result is a dramatic increase in the availability of engaging, relevant mother-tongue language books that minority language groups and others can access anytime and from anywhere.

Ask

We are seeking USD110,000 grant to add additional innovative features and to introduce the platform to new minority language communities in Thailand. The addition of audio to the platform, where a narration of the books can be heard while reading along, would be a tremendous step for mother-tongue based multi-lingual education. An audio component would open the library to additional users, including parents and caregivers, who may be able to speak the language but struggle to read or write it as well as the visually impaired. We are also looking to expand the availability of the Let’s Read! platform to other minority language groups in Thailand. A successful introduction of the platform to a new language group will require translator community activities as well as children’s eBook hackathon-type events to create locally relevant books. Additional community-based education programs and events will also be conducted to ensure usability of the platform. Non-Financial Support: -Marketing and Communication: Creating awareness among languages groups of this resource that can be used in their communities.
 
 
 

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