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Asia is home to over two thousand minority languages whose speakers are among the region’s most marginalized populations. Mother tongue-based education, in which students begin their education in the same language that is spoken in their home and community before transitioning to a more widely used national language, is the key to improving educational outcomes and economic opportunities. Nonetheless, few mother tongue reading resources exist and even fewer are accessible by those with special needs. A good example of this is the S’gaw Karen minority language group who are scattered throughout the hills of Northern Thailand. This language group struggles to teach reading in their mother-tongue in part because of a lack of high quality, accessible books. This is a situation that effects many minority language groups in Thailand and the region, including Malay languages in the south, Karen languages in the north and Khmer languages in the northeast.
Let’s Read! helps bridge the gap between the need for accessible, portable, compelling books to motivate children to develop literacy skills and the means to efficiently create them at low cost. Content is added to the digital, mobile-first platform through a create, convert and adapt approach. Local authors and illustrators create culturally relevant books and existing local content is converted to digital format through the platform. The adapt feature is particularly innovative as it leverages the collective knowledge of the community to smooth the translation process. Books are accessed through a simple Android app, with online/offline functionality, or the web, with the ability to print for completely non-digital environments. Local organizations are engaged to facilitate the creation of reading programs and community events. The result is a dramatic increase in the availability of engaging, relevant mother-tongue language books that minority language groups and others can access anytime and from anywhere.