“Linguistic diversity is increasingly threatened as more and more languages disappear. Globally 40 per cent of the population does not have access to an education in a language they speak or understand.” - UNESCO International Mother Language Day website
Since 2000, the United Nations has observed February 21 as International Mother Language Day to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. This year, StoryWeaver marks the occasion by opening a gateway to digital libraries in 100 languages for children across the world and thereby addressing the scarcity of books for children in their own languages.
To achieve the milestone of 100 languages, StoryWeaver has collaborated with a global network of organisations and individuals who are helping create this vast resource of children’s storybooks, as part of its ‘Freedom to Read’ campaign.
Our partners encompass national and international organisations, as well as language champions who share our passion for creating reading resources for children in their mother tongue languages. Partners like Azad India Foundation, AfLIA (African Library Information Associations and Institutions), Darakht-e Danesh Library, Little Readers' Nook, North East Educational Trust, REHMA, Right To Play, SNS Foundation, Suchana, Unnati Institute for Social and Educational Change and language champions like Agnes N.S. Nyendwa, Amit Dudave, Ana Jovic, Ankit Dwivedi, Kaye Suscang, Maharani Aulia and BE Priyanti, Nguyen Dac Thai Hang, Priya Bhakthan. The languages are varied - from mainstream languages like Afrikaans, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Spanish, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu, tribal languages like Gondi, Korku, Kora and Santali, endangered languages like Occitan to indigenous languages like Chatino, Mixe and Triqui and underserved languages like Assamese, Basa Jawa, Basa Sunda, Bhojpuri, Bundelkhandi, Igbo, Marwari, Sindhi and Surjapuri,
Collaboration has been the cornerstone of the StoryWeaver community, and the high quality of the translations - endured by a rigorous system of peer review - stands testament to the commitment of every contributor to "Freedom to Read".
These partners will take these digital reading resources even further - to serve children around the world, and help them read in their mother tongue languages. AfLIA (African Library Information Associations and Institutions) will roll out their continent-wide reading promotion ‘Read Africa Read’ with the same storybook titles in different languages across Africa. The Ghana Library Authority has already downloaded a book translated into Ewe in the e-readers in the Library and read it aloud to children on the World Read Aloud Day. The SNS Foundation in Rajasthan is working towards building a hyperlocal library of 100 Marwari books which will be used in 1,500 schools in Rajasthan.
The troubling statistic of 40% of the global population not having access to education in a language they speak or understand translates to over 2 billion people who would benefit from having books in their mother tongues.
“Through StoryWeaver, increasing access to quality reading resources for children has been made possible like none other. We are also grateful to collaborate with like-minded partners whose primary mission -- like ours -- is to get every child to read,” shares Suzanne Singh, Chairperson, Pratham Books.
Click here to take a look at a short video on the Freedomto Read journey.