The African Publishing Innovation Fund (APIF), a grant initiative co-led by Dubai Cares, a global philanthropic organization headquartered in the United Arab Emirates, and introduced by the International Publishers Association (IPA), has selected five projects from across Africa to receive USD 170,000 in funding in 2021.
From 311 applications received from 26 African countries, the APIF Committee, chaired by IPA President Bodour Al Qasimi, chose the winners.
This is the second round of the grants initiative, which is sponsored by a four-year pledge of USD 800,000 from Dubai Cares.
The APIF prioritized scalable digital learning technologies to support millions of African students in under-resourced rural communities as a result of school closures and the transition to online learning in response to COVID-19.
Many young Africans are beyond the reach of national efforts to move to remote learning and lack library access.
The following projects will earn grants, which will help 11 million young Africans in five countries:
Ghana: Due to a major urban-rural digital divide, girls in rural communities have had difficulty accessing online learning as schools moved online as a result of COVID-19.
Since only 70% of school-aged children have access to online learning, the Learners Girls Foundation will help 400 at-risk Ghanaian girls in Paga, a rural community of 100,000 people, continue their education and access educational services despite technical and internet connectivity challenges.
Kenya: As African publishers accept digital content as schools move online, many are lacking in experience in inclusive publishing practices to meet international accessibility requirements.
eKitabu will collaborate with publishers to enrich the remote learning of more than nine million students and teachers with open digital learning materials, starting in Kenya, East Africa’s regional publishing center, with plans to expand to 12 African countries.
Rwanda: As schools have closed, community libraries have become much more important in improving vital literacy skills and promoting a reading culture.
Save the Children Rwanda will train 270 librarians in eight community libraries on how to use technology to improve a reading culture in remote and rural areas, as well as include digitally available reading materials in Kinyarwanda to keep 1.6 million children reading when they are unable to attend school.
Tanzania: In Tanzania’s Zanzibar region, competing government budget demands have resulted in a severe shortage of community and school libraries.
In Dunga, a rural community of 76,000 people, Book Aid International will turn three shipping containers into fully-equipped libraries where children can enjoy reading, young learners can prepare for exams, and adults can read and learn new skills.
Zimbabwe: Communities across Zimbabwe lack social facilities, such as libraries, due to a lack of funding in schools and rural areas.
This initiative, led by Chirikure Chirikure, the country’s most famous poet, will construct a modern community library in Nemashakwe are, Gutu district, that will provide 800 students and youth with books, a place to study, and programs to learn how to earn a living.
‘The COVID-19 pandemic has set back the education of millions of learners around the world, but its effects are most acute where the infrastructure cannot sustain the connectivity needed for distance learning,’ said IPA President Bodour Al Qasimi.
We are all very pleased to have found five projects that we believe will provide substantial benefits for a large number of children and young people, while receiving much more applications than we could have expected.’
‘While COVID-19’s impact on education has been devastating, it is now our duty to look beyond the challenges and identify and introduce unique solutions that would minimize the outbreak’s impact and allow children and youth to continue on their road to learning,’ said Dr. Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Cares and a member of its Board of Directors.
Reading is an important part of education, and we are hopeful that the five projects selected by the Africa Publishing Innovation Fund will be able to provide the required tools to help children on their educational journeys.
About 250 million African children are out of school as a result of the pandemic.
Students in rural areas have been unable to attend remote learning due to a shortage of internet service, library services, and major urban-rural digital differences.
Closures also had a greater impact on girls, who are often forced to take on childcare duties and household chores.
APIF is helping to prevent a lost generation of youth who lack vital literacy, livelihood, and life skills by solving these issues by publishing creativity.