So I’ve returned from the Annual Books for Africa Gala that I attended and spoke at last week in Minnesota, and can say that the accomplishments and plans for future achievements were even more impressive than those shared last year. This years gala focused strongly on the need to educate children in reading and writing, so they can be well positioned to benefit from the electronic resources that are becoming available in most African countries. While the power of the Internet and the educational capabilities it provides are unrivaled, students in African nations will only be able to leverage them if they have built a solid academic foundation first.
The gala was highlighted by a speech from the Ambassador to Kenya, Elkanah Odembo, who repeatedly touched on the need to continue providing students and teachers with the tools to gain a mastery of reading and writing, so they can then be empowered by the Internet and associated information superhighway that is beginning to make itself available in Kenya and surrounding countries. He acknowledged the unbelievable educational capabilities of resources like Course Hero, and pushed hard on the need to make sure every child was well versed in reading and writing skills to ensure that they are prepared to use these assets.
As a speaker myself, it was thrilling to share the success of the Course Hero Knowledge Drive, which has jumped from 7,000 books donated to 43,000+ in just over a year. It was even more energizing to view the reaction of those in the audience though, from the Ambassadors all the way down to the newest supports of Books for Africa, as they could easily see the power that this student driven movement is having. Making education more accessible for learners and educators around the world is at the core of everything Course Hero is doing, and the power behind that mission was perfectly captured by the numerous students, teachers, and administrators that came up after to ask about how they could get involved, and help bring Course Hero and the Knowledge Drive to their schools, from Duke all the way to St. Thomas University.
Building off the focus of the speeches, and how proper reading and writing instruction will play into the use of the Internet, many of the following conversations revolved around how we could leverage the resources that Course Hero currently provides, like our Courses and Flashcards tools, to help teach and test students in these areas. Could we build a course that teaches middleschoolers basic English as a second language? Could we build a course that teaches highschoolers intermediate English or business writing? Could we create flashcard sets that help strengthen basic English reading skills? Or English vocabularies?
Course Hero is here to help everyone learn more effectively, no matter where they reside. The main educational focus in continents like Africa must remain on the basic building blocks of academics, and providing students and teachers with the resources they need to become great readers and writers. Books are currently the most important asset in that area, but opening conversations as we did in Minnesota, and working through how we can leverage the current and future resources that Course Hero provides to benefit learners and educators in Africa is an exciting next step, and speaks to the power that we have to benefit the entire educational landscape.
It will be very exciting to ask and answer the necessary questions to determine how we do so in the coming months, and to work together with students and teachers around the world to make sure we provide the very best academic resource possible.