Pratham aims to spread literacy via open source digital platform

With 800 stories in 24 languages and a bank of over 2,000 images, StoryWeaver is freely accessible

Not-for-profit organization Pratham Books launches an open source digital platform on Tuesday to help spread literacy among children on World Literacy Day.

With 800 stories in 24 languages—a dozen of them Indian—and a bank of over 2,000 images, StoryWeaver (www.storyweaver.org.in) will be freely accessible to the reader to weave their own text around the illustrations.

Known for its affordable books, Pratham has been campaigning for “a book in every child’s hand" since its launch in 2004, and has published over 300 books in 18 Indian languages, a total of about 2,000 books.

With India’s average literacy rate hovering under 70% of the population in 2014, compared with a global average of 84% in 2013, the initiative could revolutionize reading, experts said.

In the backdrop of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s push for a digital India, Pratham is confident that StoryWeaver will grow multi-fold in a short time.

“This is not just a platform for reading. We have included features, which will help increase interest in reading. For instance, a child can take six frames of illustrations and write his/her own story around it or repurpose it," said Pratham chairperson Suzanne Singh.

In the hope that more people will get connected to the initiative, content on StoryWeaver is not copyrighted and is available under Creative Commons licences to encourage collaboration and reuse.

Children, authors, illustrators, organizations, teachers and other agencies working on children’s books can use the same material in different scenarios, with a little adaptation and re-purposing.

The stories can be read, downloaded, translated, re-versioned or printed using the tools embedded on the platform.

Singh urged other publishers to add books and stories to the platform.

The initiative is being seen as an opportunity.

Gurudath Bantwalkar, assistant director of the World Institute of Konkani Language in Mangaluru, said, “This is a resource sharing platform which can be used for the promotion of minor languages such as Khasi, Konkani, etc."

With StoryWeaver, Bantwalkar said, world-class stories can be made available with the help of translators.

“In normal circumstances, we have to find a good writer, illustrator and publisher before we can put out a book for anyone to read; but here, we have readymade stories which can easily be translated and printed and circulated," he added.

Asked if being digital in India could be a limitation, Singh said, “Since children do not buy books directly and intermediaries such as schools, parents, organizations and other agencies help reach the books to them, we don’t think it will be a stumbling block to our plans."

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