South Africa is in the midst of a profound education crisis. While the roots of the problem are well understood across a country blighted by socio-economic inequality, exactly how to go about lowering essential education cost components is unclear. Key government and education role players are committed to reducing the onerous financial burden of education, but footing the bill is a worrying, ongoing challenge.
In the midst of this massive national concern and raging debate about the financial exclusion, in education particularly, Jenny Crwys Williams joins forces with the world’s largest eBook publisher, Bookboon, to significantly drive down the cost of education.
Text books and education resources are key components within the national education crisis, and it’s here that this interesting, and very positive, move is afoot. This week, local literary vanguard, Jenny Crwys Williams, launched the Bookboon+network.
This initiative brings top local business leaders and Bookboon together to offer South African students and self-starting entrepreneurs free digital access to thousands of world class university and business textbooks. The textbooks focus on core areas of need in the South African economy: Engineering, IT, Business and Finance. Bookboon has already established a formidable footprint in Africa, with over 5 million books distributed in South Africa and over 15 million across the continent last year.
“I don’t believe tertiary education is only for the well-off,” says Jenny Crwys Williams, patron of the Bookboon+network. “For many millions of young, hungry and angry people, it is their only stab at a better life. Bookboon is a broad path to a dignified future.”
Bookboon solves the cost challenge of traditional textbooks with a technology-enabled, corporate-supported model that reduces the cost barrier for those eager to learn. The Bookboon+network will be limited to 40 business leaders who will each pledge to support Bookboon (either in South Africa or across the African continent) to ensure the books stay free, and that the resource library keeps growing.
“In return for annual membership, today’s leaders will have a compelling platform to speak directly to this dynamic group of future leaders,” says James Van der Westhuizen, Bookboon country manager in South Africa.
The flexibility of the platform also provides a dynamic space for these leaders’ organisations to establish their brands as a partner in changing the face of South African education. Once the Bookboon+network is fully up and running, each business leader will effectively have sponsored access to over 5 million books for students and entrepreneurs – at a cost of less than R2 a book.
“Collectively the network will save our students and emerging entrepreneurs over R2 billion in textbook costs in 2016,” says Crwys Williams. “For me, this is truly an example of leadership through readership.”