For much of the past year I have been working on a game. No, not just a game, I’m been working on change. There are 122 million children in the world today who can’t read or write. They will grow up to join the 775 million adults who can’t. Together that’s almost one billion people who are effectively shut off from the information age. How many of them could make the world a better place, given even half a chance?
I’ve been interested in the intersection of open source and education for underprivileged children for quite some time. I even build a a Linux distro towards that end. So when Jono Bacon told me about a new XPRIZE contest to build open source software for teaching literacy skills to children in Africa, of course I was interested. And now, a little more than a year later, I have a game that I firmly believe can deliver that world changing ambition.
This is where you come in. Don’t worry, I’m not going to ask you to help build my contest entry, though it is already open source (GPLv3) and on github. But the contest entries only cover English and Kiswahili, which is going to leave a very large part of the illiterate population out. That’s not enough, to change the world it needs to be available to the world. Additional languages won’t be part of the contest entry, but they will be a part of making the world a better place.
I designed Phoenicia from the beginning to be able to support as many languages as possible, with as little additional work as possible. But while it may be capable of using handling multiple languages, I sadly am not. So I’m reaching out to the community to help me bring literacy to millions more children than I can do by myself. Children who speak your language, live in your community, who may be your own neighbors.
You don’t need to be a programmer, in fact there shouldn’t be any programming work needed at all. What I need are early reader words, for each language. From there I can show you how to build a locale pack, record audio help, and add any new artwork needed to support your localization. I’m especially looking to those of you who speak French, Spanish and Portuguese, as those languages will carry Phoenicia into many countries where childhood illiteracy is still a major problem.