Opera and international nonprofit organization, Worldreader, are expanding access to ebooks for children and students via the Opera Mini browser in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak. Starting this week, Worldreader will offer a new selection of ebooks to Opera Mini users as well as a  brand new web app designed for children.

The regular version of the Worldreader app provides ebooks for young adult readers. It features hundreds of books for learning and pleasure, in categories including Learn, Health, and Career. Over 100,000 people already read from it each month, with new readers joining every day.

The new app, BookSmart, from Worldreader, offers a wide variety of ebooks dedicated to children. Both apps can be accessed from the Opera Mini browser, after tapping on the Worldreader speed dial icon.

Once accessed, users will be able to access the new children’s version of the BookSmart app.

“When considering how to mitigate learning loss in a pandemic, it should be a top priority to address supporting reading skills and engagement with books, bridging the gap until schools are in session again,” said Rebecca Chandler Leege, Worldreader’s Chief Impact Officer.

“Through mobile technology, we are able to support the distribution of ebooks and attend the needs of millions thanks to the massive reach of theOpera Mini browser in Africa,” she said.

According to UNESCO,  as at 24 March 2020, 82% of the world’s learners have been shut out of traditional schooling and education programs due to social distancing.

School closures can result in significant learning loss for students. In response to this global health crisis, UNESCO is supporting the implementation of large-scale distance learning programs and recommending open educational applications and platforms that schools and teachers can use to reach learners remotely.

Since 2015, Opera and Worldreader have successfully promoted literacy worldwide, with greater attention in Africa to enable millions of people to read free books. However, there are several barriers in certain African communities to access online educational materials, especially when schools are shut down.

High data costs, basic phones, and slow mobile networks are some of the main difficulties for accessing educational online content.

“Throughout Africa, mobile data is very expensive and the Opera Mini browser is massively popular in Africa due to its ability to reduce web page sizes and save up to 90% of their mobile data”, said Jørgen Arnesen, Head of Marketing and Distribution at Opera. “We believe that millions of children and students can benefit from our partnership with Worldreader, and access educational online content while the COVID-19 outbreak lasts.”

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