App aims to make Namibia a reading nation

24 March 2020 | Education

The directorate of library services in the ministry of education, arts and culture has received a one-year free subscription, valued at US$1 million, to the Smart Kidz Club digital reading app called ‘Namibia Reads’, which will be made accessible to the entire country.

The sponsorship was made possible by the Foundation for Accessible Children's Education (FACE.org), a New York-based non-profit organisation with a mission to enable children in underprivileged areas around the world to receive access to quality education through digital solutions.

The Namibia Reads app is a carefully curated digital library that allows young children easy access to narrated and illustrated eBooks in an environment free of advertising, animation, videos and games.

The selection of Namibia for this sponsorship came about largely because of the government’s high expenditure towards educational development. As outlined in the fifth National Development Plan (NDP5), it is indeed one of the nation’s desired outcomes to focus on building a strong foundation in numeracy and literacy, while promoting critical thinking and information literacy through providing enrichment programmes in schools and libraries.

The Namibia Reads app is therefore meant to strengthen the efforts of the ministry of education, arts and culture to enhance literacy and numeracy.

The Namibia Reads app consists of more than a thousand eBooks, activities and quizzes for children aged from 3 to 12 years old. These books were developed by educators and teachers with the main aim of promoting reading, building vocabulary and comprehension in children at a tender age.

All the content is educational, with 85% non-fiction that children are generally not exposed to. Some subjects covered in the app include the alphabet, ecosystems, health and well-being, lifecycle, space and astronomy as well as phonics. Learners have an option to either read the books themselves or let the books be read aloud to them, which makes this app essential for busy parents who have no time to read to their children.

The app has books (both illustrated and audio) that cater for children with special needs, in particular those who are autistic.

The Namibian population in the 21st century is increasingly using digital media, therefore the Namibia Reads app perfectly blends in as a tool to instil the love of reading in children while using digital media.

It has been discovered that reading digitally is a preferred way of reading for reluctant readers, readers with few books at home and children who traditionally don’t enjoy reading on paper. These books will contribute to children’s vocabulary growth, comprehension, engagement and enjoyment of the story.

The app comes at the right time where learners are mostly confined to their homes and unable to visit their schools or public libraries. The Namibia Reads app is now available free of charge to anyone (parents, teachers, schools, libraries). It can be downloaded on Google Playstore for Android devices or Apple App Store for Apple/iOS devices. Internet access is not needed after syncing books on devices, hence books can be read offline.

Parents, teachers, information institutions such as school and community libraries as well as the general public are encouraged to make use of this free resource.

Together we can make a positive change and improve the literacy levels in Namibia. Let’s inspire our kids to read and learn. For more information regarding the downloading and use of the app visit your nearest community library or go to www.facebook.com/namibiareads.

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