Liberia’s education sector faces lots of challenges ranging from lack of competent classroom teachers to basic educational tools such as books, libraries and laboratories. But a new ‘mobile reading revolution’ technology era has been inaugurated in the country that would provide students with the opportunity to access all needed books to foster their education using their mobile phone. This program is called ‘worldreader’ and is now a major program installed in the Cellcom tablet sold for only US$129.00. The ‘mobile reading revolution’ was launched on Friday, June 6, in the presence of Education Minister Etmonia David Tarpeh and Montserrado County Senator Madam Geraldine Doe-Sheriff.
Also present at the Royal Grand Hotel for the ceremony was the president of the Liberia National Students Union (LINSU) Mr. Varney A. Jarsey and Federation of Liberian Youths (FLY) president Augustine S.M. Tamba as well as the presidents of the University of Liberia Student Union (ULSU), AME Zion University Student Union (AMEZUSU), AME University Student Union (AMEU) and Smythe Institute.
Speaking at the ceremony, Education Minister Etmonia Tarpeh thanked Cellcom for “this initiative. This is a result of the company’s creativity,” she said. Minister Tarpeh added: “I know that we don’t have libraries and laboratories at our schools, but what we have here is important.”
Madam Tarpeh encouraged the youths and students community to take advantage of the Cellcom product/tablet as it is the new beginning for a much longer future in enhancing their capacity.
For her part, Montserrado County Senator Madam Geraldine Doe-Sheriff said she is excited that Cellcom is giving back to the Liberian people through education. “This is unbeatable,” she said. Sen. Doe-Sheriff added “having this type of technology where we go beyond normal classrooms brings competition among young people.” According to the Senator, empowering a student raises that student out of poverty.
A Few months ago, Cellcom launched its tablet without the worldreader. Though the tablet is already sold out; Cellcom Telecommunications Inc. Liberia said it has put in for a new order that is loaded with the worldreader program for its subscribers.
The ‘empowering Liberia’ worldreader is a complete library equipped with ‘all’ types of books including mathematics, chemistry, readers, physics, biology and so on— for all levels.
The GSM service provider says it is duty to increase the literacy rate in Liberia through cutting-edge technology, since in fact; more people in Liberia have mobile phones.
The mobile service provider says by installing the worldreader on the tablet, Liberia has now joined other countries which citizens have the advantage of holding a whole library in their hands everywhere they go.
Cellcom’s Corporate Communications Strategist Dr. Kimmie Weeks told the gathering that Cellcom has subsidized the tablet to ensure that it is accessible by vast majority of Liberians mainly youth and students.
According to Dr. Weeks, the actual cost of the tablet in other countries is US$600.00.
“It is sold outside Liberia for US$600.00, but Cellcom has subsidized it to ensure that it is accessible to young people. It helps them [young people] to do their academic works including research and assignments, etc,” he said.
Mr. Weeks emphasized that the worldreader is a global library and is making great impact in Tanzania. He disclosed that once you purchase the phone from Cellcom, all of the books in the phone’s library are free and that they will be constantly updated.
“All you need to do is buy your tablet and data from Cellcom and you will have the library in your hands,” he said.
Dr. Weeks disclosed plans by Cellcom to make a breakthrough with this product by ensuring that ‘all phones,’ not only smart phones, have access to a worldreader platform. “We are starting with smart phone, but we are finding a way to make this service to work on any phone including the least bonanza phone,” he said.
In brief remarks, Cellcom chief executive officer (CEO) Mr. John Vasikaran urged the leadership of the youths and students community to help the company with the marketing aspect of the product and to ensure that it is promoted among students.
He assured that Cellcom will not levy extra service charge on the new program, noting that the company will rather ensure that the library on the phone is regularly updated.
In his remarks, FLY president Augustine Tamba observed that Cellcom’s initiative is not only welcoming and timely, but is putting the country’s educational system on fast growth speed. “I urge Cellcom to ensure that such information and training be taken to various universities.
For his part, LINSU president Varney Jarsey saluted Cellcom for making a major contribution to Liberia’s education sector. “When you read and make research, you make informed decisions,” Jarsey said as he called on Cellcom to work with LINSU to launch the platform at various school campuses nationwide.