Canada-wide literacy challenge connects classrooms with refugees

Nov 5 2019, 10:10 am

Despite efforts to improve education in the last few decades, illiteracy is still a huge problem around the world. More than 50% of the world’s children and adolescents still don’t have access to education, and 750 million adults aren’t able to read.

But while these statistics are alarming, it can be hard to know how to contribute to a solution. Luckily for Canadians looking to make a difference, local Vancouver startup Simbi‘s Read for Good Challenge is giving teachers, students, and the general public a chance to make a difference through a unique partnership with the United Nations in which they can read a book aloud and support Simbi’s goal of narrating another 10,000 books to support the collaboration. Reading takes just five minutes and can even be done from a mobile phone.

A South Sudanese student reading along to a narration/Simbi

Their challenge is simple: have participants record themselves reading three books aloud through the Simbi web app. The recordings will then be shared with those learning how to read on the other side of the world, so they can listen to the recordings at the same time as they read along.

Studies have proven that Simbi’s “bi-modal” approach to reading with the words being highlighted as the narrator’s recorded voice reads them has a much more effective impact on memory. In fact, this approach can improve reading fluency at twice the rate of silent reading and also reduces distractions.

Teachers reviewing student’s Simbi readings on laptop/Simbi

By sharing their voices, participants are able to help students struggling with literacy around the world. Although Simbi teaches over 24,000 learners how to read in over 37 countries, their largest community is in Northern Uganda at the Bidibidi Refugee Settlement (geographically, one of the largest refugee settlements in the world), where they’re educating 10,000 refugees. At Twajiji Primary School, students learn how to read using Simbi in The Walking School Bus BrightBox solar-powered classroom (pictured below).

The Walking School Bus BrightBox solar-powered classroom in Uganda/Simbi

Lend your voice to the Read for Good challenge and you’ll not only be making a difference to refugees learning to read, but you can also help students across Canada! Simbi has already partnered with more than five hundred classrooms coast to coast to improve reading fluency. Incredible teachers are celebrating their students’ positive reading habits and want to see everyone join in!

Teachers training to use Simbi/Simbi

Parents, teachers, university students, and anyone looking to make a difference can get started in 30 seconds. Simply sign up for the Read for Good challenge and read aloud a book on Simbi. By sharing your voice, you’re helping make a difference to global literacy.