Students learn and play outside of a BrightBox classroom. Image from Simbi Foundation.
Software company Salesforce has joined the Simbi Foundation’s Read-A-Thon in a partnership aimed at improving literacy of refugees in Uganda and India.
Simbi Foundation’s Read-A-Thon motivates learners across the world to raise each other’s literacy levels in a COVID-19-safe way. Learners narrate storybooks for the Simbi Foundation’s global library, accessed by over 180,000 students, including those in remote and refugee settings.
Cloud software company Salesforce has donated two BrightBox Micros for refugees in the United Nations Bidibidi Camp located in northwestern Uganda. The BrightBox Micro is a solar digital classroom designed to boost capacity in overpopulated schools.
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The Bidibidi Refugee Settlement is the second-largest settlement of its kind in the world, home to over 239,000 people, 143,000 of whom are school-aged children. With more than 70,000 students enrolled in schools across the settlement, but only 850 teachers, students face student-teacher ratios of 94:1 and student-textbooks ratios of 8:1 in primary schools and 866:1 in secondary schools.
BrightBox Micros are portable versions of Salesforce’s full BrightBox classrooms. Suitcase-sized, solar-powered, dust-proof and damage-proof, they support up to 1,500 simultaneous learners through an offline intranet with a 2.7km radius.
The BrightBox provides the refugees of the Bidibidi Camp with access to books read during the Read-A-Thon along with other key digital educational resources such as the Simbi Learn Cloud curriculum as well as teacher-training resources.
Students use the Simbi online platform to improve reading skills inside a BrightBox classroom. Image from Simbi Foundation.
How the Read-A-Thon benefits refugees
According to the Simbi Foundation, their Read-A-Thon encourages individuals of all ages to renew their love of reading and compete with each other by narrating books into the online Simbi platform.
Narrated stories are added to a global library and to Simbi Foundation BrightBoxes – solar classrooms built in remote and refugee communities in Uganda and India. As a result, Read-A-Thon participants’ voices are available to readers from over 80 countries, with each story helping to build reading fluency.
Why use narration to boost literacy?
Simbi Foundation developed its reading technology on the principle known as “bi-modal” reading, where learners read along to books that are simultaneously narrated to them.
When learners have used a bi-modal approach in randomised control trials, their literacy scores have been shown to increase by up to 100% over traditional learning methods.
Salesforce Regional Manager Jesse Friedland: “636 books narrated and thousands of learners impacted around the world—proud of the Salesforce team! If you’re looking for a meaningful, COVID-19-friendly way to give back, consider a Read-A-Thon with Simbi Foundation.”