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Produce e-books to enable more children read

BY: Charles Andoh
Mrs Matilda Amissah Arthur, wife of the Vice President, delivering the keynote address at the 2016 digital reading summit at the Coconut Groove Regency Hotel in Accra last Wednesday

The wife of the Vice-President, Mrs Matilda Amissah-Arthur, has urged writers and publishers to convert story books and textbooks into electronic formats to be easily accessed by children to enhance their reading skills.

She emphasised that the world was moving gradually into the technology space and children could not be left out as far as their reading habits were concerned.

“Technology will, in the long term, increase the literacy rate in the country because it will make books more accessible and affordable to many parents,” she noted.

 

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Mrs Amissah-Arthur made the call in a keynote address at the 3rd annual digital reading summit in Accra last Wednesday.

This year’s conference is on the theme: “Transforming lives together through digital reading”.

The two-day summit, which is under the auspices of Worldreader Ghana, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), will discuss issues including digital reading, growing E-reading programmes and digital book maps for libraries.

Lack of reading books

According to her, there were not enough reading books in libraries across the country, for which reason those who could read were not able to sustain their reading habits.

That, she said, called for moving away from hard books to e-books to open a lot of children up to the technology space, as well as improve their reading habits, adding: “It is through such an investment that the country can fight poverty, diseases and conflicts.”

“Technologies are extensions of ourselves and books and digital gadgets are technologies that can change our educational landscape,” she said.

But she was quick to add that parents and teachers also had a major role to play to ensure that they monitored the kind of information that the children consumed from the Internet.

Children in rural areas

Mrs Amissah-Arthur also called on organisations and institutions to endeavour to sponsor children in the rural areas by giving them mobile phones and other technological gadgets meant for studies which would help them cultivate the culture of reading.

“Can you imagine how many of these children will begin to understand their lessons because they own kindles and other technological gadgets stocked with textbooks?” she asked.

Collaborative effort  

The Country Manager of Worldreader Ghana, Ms Carol Williams, said e-reading could not be done by only one organisation or institution but through collaborative efforts.

In her view, the use of technology was one of the new ways of improving the reading culture among children in Africa, for which reason there was the need for everyone to come on board to help achieve that.

“When we come together and merge resources, combine our expertise and build on each other’s innovations, we can make available a lot of these e-reading gadgets to our children and transform lives positively in the long term,” she said.

Some panel members and participants also shared their perspectives on literacy and reading.