A French translation week-a-thon to bring the joy of reading to children in Senegal!

Posted by Remya Padmadas on August 26, 2019

Manning Sutton is the founder and director of Apprendre Sans Frontieres (Learning Without Borders), a non-profit organisation that provides technology and educational materials to primary schools in French-speaking African countries like Senegal. To supplement the course curriculum, the organisation provide books (in the form of PDFs and creative commons), websites (Wikipedia, Khan Academy etc.), photos and videos to teachers. 

The organisation currently has about 200 books for primary school students. However, low literacy rates, no internet access and the absence of library materials including children's books are some of the challenges that the organisation faces. To create storybooks in mother tongue languages like French, Learning Without Borders partnered with StoryWeaver.

Jordan Hairabedian, who works as a researcher at Learning Without Borders, is a student at Sciences Po Aix, an Institute of Political Sciences in France. In May 2019, he organised a week-long translation hackathon with fellow students at the university to translate storybooks into French for Learning Without Borders.

This was Learning Without Borders’ first experience organising a StoryWeaver translation sprint. A closed Facebook group was formed to aid communication regarding translation and review of each story. Jordan translated StoryWeaver's translation sprint guide, which provided the best practices on translating for children, to French. 

Jordan shares, “The stories translated were published after peer-to-peer reviews. This was followed by each story being rated by the language/ translation experts from within the group. These ratings were made the basis of assessment and awards for best translations from the sprint.”

53 stories were translated into French in this sprint. You can browse through some of the stories from the sprint here.


Julia Hang and Jordan Hairbedian translating stories into French as part of the hackathon organised by Learning Without Borders.

Learning Without Borders has piloted an offline, solar-powered digital library in Senegal, that can be used in the remote areas of the country that do not have access to electricity or the internet.

Sutton hopes to see story books translated from French to languages like Pulaar and Serer, and eventually to Mandinka, Balanta-Ganja, Mandjak, Hassaniya Arabic, Noon, Jola-Fonyi, Soninke, and Mankanya. He also plans to share the StoryWeaver methodology with the Ministry of Education to see if books can be created locally, in local languages. 

As for us, we’re just excited that our translation resources are being used to translate storybooks into languages around the world, so that more children can benefit from it and partake of the joy of reading!

If you would like to conduct a StoryWeaver translation sprint, please feel free to reach out to us at [email protected].