Free online books, and data-free too
SA has some of the highest mobile data costs in the world. Instead of unleashing the potentially transformative power of near-universal access to the internet through mobile devices, high data costs contribute to a widening of the digital divide because people who cannot afford to pay for data also can’t access public benefit websites, even though the content on these sites is free.
To address this issue, the DG Murray Trust (DGMT) spearheaded a civil society campaign that started in 2018 to have the websites of public-benefit organisations zero-rated.
During the hard lockdown in 2020 when educational institutions were closed, the necessity for data-free access became painfully clear, as millions of children were stranded in homes with no resources. The campaign gained momentum and in October 2020 it was gazetted that mobile data providers must “zero-rate all the mobile content provided by public-benefit organisations, including government websites”.
Book Dash is one of the organisations that benefited from this ruling. Their books were already free for anyone to read online, download and adapt as needed. However, immediately after their website was zero-rated, they saw a surge in users visiting the site to read and enjoy our books.
“It was heartening to see how many of these new visitors to the Book Dash site were South African,” they said.
Many of Book Dash’s partner organisations who work in early childhood development (ECD) and literacy education have a section for resources on their website and portals. These resources are often a combination of reading materials (including books and other reading resources), and activities for ECD practitioners and/or parents.
Many of these sites and portals are also zero-rated, and all resources can be accessed online without using any data.
The data-free Book Dash website has 53 audio books.
Here are a few of their favourite data-free sites and services. Visit them to see and use the excellent tools and content that is freely available:
- Shine Literacy’s data-free mobi site called Story Time with resources (including audiobooks) in Afrikaans, English and isiXhosa.
- Wordworks’ home learning resources in Afrikaans, isiZulu, isiXhosa and English, including their mobi site.
- The Do More Foundation’s portal with parenting resources.
- Thanda projects’ learning portal with resources (stories and activities) in English and isiZulu.
- Nal’ibali’s resources in eight SA languages.
- Moya Messenger App is a data-free alternative to tools like WhatsApp. As long as you are on a partnered mobile network operator and visit data-free apps only, Moya will not use any of your airtime or data balance. It also features apps in its “Discover” panel, including Book Dash books.
Article provided by Book Dash.