I've just spent the last week working in rural Lesotho with a small organisation called Paleng ("Place of Stories" in Sesotho). The initiative is run by Marion Drew and Khotatso Ranoosi and revolves around a small library where children can come and read books of varying levels in both English and Sesotho. As well as offering a much-needed safe space for children to read and play, Paleng is also involved in the African Storybook Project (ASP). The ASP is an initiative that aims to create an opensource database of African stories in book format that can be translated, adapted and downloaded for use in different countries and different languages. Paleng is the Lesotho test site for the ASP.
I was there to explore the potential of using accessible technology in the further exploitation of existing stories and the development of new ones. By offering teachers, parents etc. alternatives to simply reading, we can not only provide them with a wider array of options, but also increase literacy in children who may be less inclined to read.
The different approaches we tried included recording a film on a mobile phone camera, audio recording of storytelling, and "raw material" audiovisual recording of stories for further development.
Paleng is a non-profit organisation who are currently looking for the means with which to obtain their own premises. For more information and contact details, see www.paleng.weebly.com
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