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Let’s Read! children’s digital library and next batch of e-books launched

Phnom Penh, Cambodia; 9th April 2018: The Asia Foundation and Smart Axiata announced a 3-year partnership to improve digital literacy and enable more Khmer content for children while cultivating increased e-book reading habits.

With Smart’s generous support, five e-book hackathons and a translatathon will be organized over the next three years to encourage writers, artists and illustrators to come together to create children’s e-books based on certain themes. As part of the collaboration, a social media digital campaign to raise awareness on reading will also be rolled out annually.

Together with this partnership announcement, The Asia Foundation also launched the Let’s Read! children’s digital library and translation platform. Let’s Read! offers free Khmer children’s e-books whereby users can read, download, translate and share at and via the Let’s Read! Android app available on Google Play. The high-quality and interesting e-books are licensed under a non-commercial Creative Commons License, enabling anyone to access, adapt or reuse the content.

“We created Let’s Read! because limited access to early-grade books is a barrier to literacy, academic success, and fostering a lifelong love of reading,” says Meloney Lindberg, The Asia Foundation’s Cambodia Country Representative.

The event also saw the release of new Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)-themed e-books, produced during last year’s e-book hackathon powered by Smart. The children’s books introduce STEM concepts through amusing stories and were a product of three different weekend e-book creation workshops. These locally-created books are now available for translation into other Asian languages as part of the Let’s Read! digital library.

Kanishka Wickrama, Chief Financial Officer of Smart Axiata, said: “We believe in harnessing technology to improve education. Hence, we are thrilled to support the efforts of local creatives, The Asia Foundation, and its partners to increase the number of available Khmer e-books. We look forward to the fruits of Let’s Read! and this long-term partnership to increase digital literacy in the country.”

The centerpiece of Let’s Read! is a custom-built platform that accelerates the creation and distribution of children’s books in communities across Asia. The rapidly growing library contains over 300 unique titles and 800 versions in more than 10 Asian languages and English.

The innovative Let’s Read! translation tool allows community members to “crowd source” translations, empowering them to adapt books already on the platform to expand local language collections. In January, the project brought together more than 50 volunteers for a two-day event at The Asia Foundation in Phnom Penh where participants translated 44 books from English to Khmer.

Besides having Smart as the prime sponsor and Official Telco Partner, The Asia Foundation has also engaged Sabay Digital Corporation as Let’s Read!’s media partner along with other community partners such as Room to Read, Sipar, the University of Puthisastra, and technology company CamAnt.

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