The Let’s Read apps are a great tool for South African pupils wanting to access literature in their mother tongue without the need for expensive books.
Developed by 70-year-old publishing company Via Afrika, the Let’s Read apps are available in all 11 official SA languages. The apps are not necessarily just for use on Android smartphones but can even be used on feature phones, making them accessible to those who can’t afford to buy expensive phones. Included in the apps are short story anthologies, novels, dramas, poetry and folklore.
Group content manager Micheal Goodman said the apps have received positive reviews since their launch. “We work closely with the African Language Association of Southern Africa (Alasa). The app was officially launched as part of their prize giving and developed with the aim of being accessible to as many as possible,” he said.
Goodman added that while the apps will best benefit pupils in high school, the stories and literature within the apps provide easily accessible reading material for young adults as well. “We have started three digital education centres which act as our experiment lab. We develop the apps and content and then trial them at the digital education centre. We have seen interesting use of the apps.”
The apps were also developed to be a small downloadable size of 500 kilobytes. “Instead of the app downloading the content, it is streamed to the device and uses very little data while operating.”
While many apps in each of the official SA languages may have already been developed, the launch of the Let’s Read apps marks some of the first literature apps in the languages.
“It has been a very rewarding process for us. It is the most exciting thing to happen to African literature in a very long time,” Goodman said.
The following apps are available for free download from the Google Play Store: the Via Afrika Let’s Read app in English; Via Afrika OnsLees in Afrikaans; Via Afrika Masifundeni in isiXhosa; Via Afrika Asifundeni in isiZulu; Via Afrika Asifunde in isiNdebele; Via Afrika Kha ri Vale in Tshivenda; Via Afrika A Hi Hlayeni in Xitsonga; Via Afrika A re Baleng in Sesotho; Via Afrika A re Buise in Setswana; Via Afrika A re Bale in Sepedi and Via Afrika Asifundze in Siswati.