Makhalidwe Athu mobile reading project

In Zambia, limited access to reading materials, especially in local languages, has inhibited children’s ability to master foundational literacy skills. With so few mother-tongue books and materials at home, parents and community members rarely find ways to support children in reading outside of school. As a result, children do not have adequate opportunities to practice reading.

Creative is piloting Makhalidwe Athu in cooperation with Read to Succeed, a USAID-funded program already working with Zambia’s government to improve early grade reading through more effective teaching and school-community partnerships.

Makhalidwe Athu is a mobile reading project bringing reading to Zambian children who often have no access to books at home. Through SMS, children will receive more than 50 local tales, crowdsourced from the community. More than 4,000 community members will be involved in the project, which is funded through All Children Reading.

The cost-effective model for Makhalidwe Athu could eventually put reading materials into the hands of more than 8 million native Chinyanja speakers— and eventually every rural and urban schoolchild’s home in Africa.



Some 35 percent of Zambians ages 15 to 24 are illiterate—the highest rate in Southern Africa. The Zambian government and USAID are teaming up with communities, schools and parents to boost literacy through quality curriculum and improving overall school effectiveness. See how this whole school, whole teacher, whole learner approach is spreading a culture of reading and keeping students on track in and out of the classroom.

Read more


Zambia: Inside an effort to turn phones into books

As part of the Makhalidwe Athu proof of concept project, crowdsourced local language stories were dispatched via SMS in three weekly segments to Zambian families in areas where local language books are hard to come by. See how Zambian families interacted with mobile stories to boost literacy. Learn More...


In Zambia, phones became books to boost literacy

Ayan Kishore of Creative’s Development Lab reflects on an innovative project to bring crowdsourced local stories to rural families through phones, and what it might mean for literacy and tech. Learn More...

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