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With the introduction of digital library platforms, the quality assurance of open educational resources has become increasingly important. To address this, the Global Digital Library has initiated efforts to identify mechanisms to ensure that uploaded digital content, either library or classroom resources, meet the GDL quality assurance standards. With this objective, the University Research Co., LLC’s Reading within Reach (REACH) project initiated a pilot exercise engaging communities of voluntary reviewers to evaluate potential GDL titles in three underserved languages. The GDL is one of four flagship initiatives under the Global Book Alliance’s 2018-2020 Strategy to increase availability, increase access to and enhance use of children’s reading books in schools and communities.
Communities of reviewers were identified using different strategies within each of the three contexts where the pilot was conducted.
In Rwanda, eight members of the Rwanda Children’s Book Organization (RCBO), a professional association of local publishers, authors, editors and sellers of children’s books, volunteered to engage in the quality assurance exercise and review titles in the Kinyarwanda language. The Lead Reviewer was a Isaie Micyomyiza, the Chief Editor of Bakame Editions, the first indigenous publishing house in Rwanda.
In Bangladesh, three members of the Bangladesh Literacy Association (BLA) lent their support to review titles in the Bengali language. The Lead Reviewer was Nafizuddin Khan, a literacy specialist with experience working on early grade reading projects and developing children’s books.
In Tanzania, two members of Children’s Book Project (CBP), a local NGO supporting book development and literacy initiatives in Tanzania, volunteered to evaluate titles in Tanzanian Swahili. The Lead Reviewer was Pilli Dumea, the Executive Secretary of CBP and a publishing professional with over twenty years of experience in book development.
Lead Reviewers were selected and received a technical orientation from REACH and NORAD staff. They were guided on how to use GDL quality assurance parameters in order to evaluate whether the leveled books met minimum standards. Through this pilot, twenty-four books were reviewed with recommended edits shared with the GDL technical team. Three titles were rejected due to the appropriateness of the language plot or theme.
The learning from this exercise will help to design a sustainable approach to ensuring books uploaded onto the GDL are of high quality and have relevance within language contexts. The GDL hopes to be able to establish communities of reviewers in low- and middle-income countries across the globe. If you have experience in children’s books and are interested in participating as a volunteer reviewer of children’s books in an underserved language, contact the GDL at https://home.digitallibrary.io/contact/.
Special thanks to the reviewers who dedicated their time and expertise. From Rwanda, the reviewers from the Rwanda Children’s Book Organization (RCBO) included Havugimana Jean Bosco, Isaie Micomyiza, Mukandabazwe Emerithe, Mukanyandwi Beatrice, Nduwimana Munyurangabo, Niyitegeka, Jean Nepo, Nsabimana Benjamin and Twagiramungu Vincent. In Bangladesh, books were reviewed by Nafizuddin Khan, Syed Kamrul Hassan and Ramjan Ali. In Tanzania, the reviewers from the Children’s Book Project (CBP) included Marcus Mbigili and Pilli Dumea.
Note: As a flagship activity within the Global Book Alliance (GBA), The Global Digital Library (GDL) has been developed to increase the availability of high-quality reading resources in underserved languages worldwide. The goal of the GBA is to provide access to free, high-quality, early grade reading resources in languages that children use and understand. The GDL aims to collect existing high-quality open educational reading resources and make them available on the web, on mobile devices and in print. It will also facilitate translation and localization of these resources to more than 300 languages. Learn more about the Global Digital Library here.