Remember our call for projects on Facebook, Social Business Youngsters? Our winner is Nazia Zebin and her team from Bangladesh. Their project? The Bookworm Revolution, a project that aims at helping young children in rural areas to develop literacy competences, by giving them access to adapted books to their young age.
But, better than us, Nazia tells you her story.
Throughout the world, education has been established as the key to good jobs and high incomes. A few recent researches on education have proved that scholarly culture – the way of life in homes where books are numerous, esteemed, read, and enjoyed- is important for holistic education. The scholarly culture hypothesis holds that reading provides cognitive skills that enhance educational attainment, a cultural toolkit. A home in which books are an integral part of the way of life will encourage children to read for pleasure, thereby providing them with information, vocabulary, imaginative richness, and wide horizons.
A research conducted by M.D.R. Evans, Jonathan Kelley, Joanna Sikora, and Donald J. Treiman in United States in 2010 pursued the idea, measuring parents’ scholarly culture in a consistent manner by the number of books in the home and estimating its effect on children’s education in 27 nations, net of a comprehensive, consistently measured set of control variables. The results actually showed that the difference between a bookless home and one with a 500-book library is as great as the difference between having parents who are barely literate (3 years of education) and having university educated parents (15 or 16 years of education). Thus, a having books at home is as important as parents’ education, the most important variable in the standard educational attainment model. The greatest impact of book access was seen also among the least educated and poorest families.
Another study of close to 3,000 children in Germany found that the number of books in the home strongly predicted reading achievement even after controlling for the parents’ education levels and income. In another study conducted by ‘Reading Is Fundamental’ (RIF) that scrutinized 11,000 reports and 108 of the most relevant studies, it was found that access to print materials improves children's reading performance and causes children to read more and for longer lengths of time. Giving children print materials leads to more shared reading between parents and children thereby allowing parents to explain more life related examples to the children.
First Book Marketplace is a non-profit organization which provides a resource essential to overcoming illiteracy, one that is missing for children from low-income families: access to an ongoing and diverse supply of high-quality books at a cost they can afford. Some 42 percent of American children, more than 31 million, grow up in families that lack the income to cover basic needs like rent, child care, food and transportation. In bookstores, most hardcover children’s books sell for $15 to $20, with paperbacks typically running from $5 to $10. Although lower cost titles are available, the pricing of books, especially the most popular and attractive children’s books, as well as baby board books puts regular book buying out of reach for low-income families. This situation might be acceptable if books were luxuries, like silk scarves. However educators contend that access to books should be seen as a necessity, alongside access to food, shelter and health care. It has also been a key motivator of our proposed social business project- The BookWorm Revolution.
Bangladesh has experienced strong and steady economic growth since 1990 and has seen improvements across a range of social indicators—including achieving more than 91 per cent primary school enrolment and gender parity in primary education. However, according to the Education Watch Report prepared by the Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE) in 2008, the literacy rate of the population aged seven was recorded to be 48.5 percent in 2008 while the literacy rate of the population aged 15 and above was at 52.1 percent. This disparity in literacy rate and enrollment rate can be explained by high dropout rates in the primary schools.
“The BookWorm Revolution” targets to improve overall education level among the poor children of Bangladesh by:
· Making specially-designed age story books available to the poor children of Bangladesh who do not have access to many reading materials
· Selling books to these kids at a price affordable to them
· Reinvesting the profit into the business to run it as a social business
Hence, our value proposition reads- “We will provide a tool to influence the poor kids to pursue education and create zeal in their mind for education, which will make a mark in the economic development in future.”
The two main customer segments are school going students of class 2-5 and the headmasters of primary Schools. The students are the end users of the books. In the effort of making the books affordable for poor children, we will be delivering the books directly from the publishers without any intermediaries so that it reduces cost. Our asking price will be BDT 5 (USD 0.07) per book, since any diminution higher or lower than that price may result in lost sales.
Our efforts are targeted to achieve a few very important social changes. The BookWorm Revolution is expected to enhance the children’s ability to read and comprehend. It will also encourage them to build interest in reading books. As it will induce, at least to some extent, a positive scholarly culture in rural homes, in the long run, the project can contribute to increase in literacy. In addition, in the future, we are expecting that that we are looking to bring about are-the project can reduce the drop-out rate in rural schools.
Our team has been very lucky to have won Social Business Youngsters, one of the most innovative ventures undertaken by danone.communities. This competition has provided us with a very good opportunity to share our project with the rest of the world and win votes for our favor. Most of the projects were full of potential and innovative ideas. It was amazing to see how youngsters today are becoming more and more interested in getting involved with social businesses.