The Asia Foundation and Smart Axiata yesterday announced a three-year partnership to help cultivate reading habits in the digital age.
Meloney Lindberg, the Asia Foundation’s country representative in Cambodia, said a digital library was a viable option to help more children in the country read.
“The programme brought together a series of published books related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics and the Smart Library also includes books written by Khmer authors as well as other Asian authors,” she said.
She is referring to Let’s Read!, a children’s digital library available to download from the app store. The main feature of the app is its custom-built platform allowing more than 300 titles to be published in ten Asian languages and English.
Kanishka Wickrama, chief financial officer of Smart Axiata, said that Smart believes in the use of technology to expand learning.
“This cooperation will increase the number of electronic books for children and we hope this long-term partnership will boost e-reading in the country,” he said.
Im Koch, secretary of state at the Education Ministry, said Cambodians would love to read digitally and praised the initiative as he believed it will increase the knowledge of the reader.
“The reader will get many benefits from digital reading. We hope it will be useful to the reader so they may find knowledge,” he said.
One-third or more of second graders in Cambodia are unable to read, a World Bank report published in March said.
The report, titled Growing Smarter: Learning and Equitable Development in East Asia and the Pacific, outlined what needs to be done in order to elevate education in East Asia and the Pacific.
“In countries such as Cambodia and Timor-Leste, one-third or more of second graders were unable to read a single word on reading tests,” the report said.
The report added that East Asia and the Pacific have seven of the top-ten performing education systems in the world, with schools in China and Vietnam showing significant progress.
In the rest of the region, however, up to 60 percent of students are in under-performing schools that fail to equip them with the skills necessary to succeed.
Let’s Read! offers free Khmer Children’s e-books where users can read, download, translate and share at their website or via the application.