International Literacy Day: Supporting and Celebrating Localization

Launching an open source localization kit for start-ups and UNICEF Country Offices

Ariam Mogos
Children in Essankro, in the South of Côte d'Ivoire
07 September 2018

To celebrate International Literacy Day on September 8th, the UNICEF Innovation Fund, in collaboration with Curious Learning, has launched an open source localization kit for start-ups and UNICEF Country Offices developing open source content and software. This knowledge product is part of a portfolio of work around investments made in the localization and assessment of the Feed the Monster game, a winner of the Norad (the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation) and ACR (All Children Reading: a Grand Challenge for Development) 2016 EduApp4Syria Competition.

The kit has been developed through piloting a localization process of “Feed the Monster” in over 20 languages, and covers pedagogical issues, asset production, language-neutral design and other areas of significance. The kit features case studies and best practices from other learning applications, and is accessible as a living document for others to share lessons learned and make contributions.


Why Localization

This year’s focus of International Literacy Day is “Literacy and Skills Development”, emphasizing the critical impact and influence of early grade reading on lifelong learning. Most literacy learning apps in the market focus on the English speaking learner, with a broad selection of learning applications in languages such as Spanish, French, Cantonese or Hindi, yet the supply of learning applications for languages like Igbo and Tagalog is essentially nonexistent. To bolster early grade reading efforts across the world, it’s imperative that learning applications are developed in less dominant languages and that learning applications which focus on the English speaking learner can be easily and cost-effectively localized (not just translated) to other languages and cultures. The current emergencies in Syria, Iraq, South Sudan and Bangladesh signal that greater investments must be made to meet the demand for mother-tongue content and ensure that all children have access to relevant and quality reading materials.


Feed the Monster is a learning game for children 5+ that supports children develop phonological awareness, phonics, vocabulary and comprehension
Feed the Monster is a learning game for children 5+ that supports children develop phonological awareness, phonics, vocabulary and comprehension

A Library of Localized Resources and Applications

In addition to the localization kit, UNICEF as a founding member of the Global Book Alliance, supports the Global Digital Library. The Global Digital Library collects existing high quality open educational reading resources, and makes them available on web, mobile and for print. It is a free resource for school systems, booksellers, educators and parents to access leveled and decodable, local language reading books. Users can print and distribute, and – depending on the CC license for the book in question – even sell in the local book market. The aim of the Global Digital Library is to have titles available in at least 100 languages by end 2020. The platform also facilitates translation and localization of existing resources to more than 300 languages.


On International Literacy Day, the Feed the Monster game is the first interactive application to be featured on the platform and is initially available in three languages.