How Norad and Sopra Steria leverage AI and cloud tech to fight child illiteracy

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A joint project by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation and Sopra Steria leverages AI and cloud tech to boost literacy by creating open, accessible education resources for some of the world’s poorest children. 

Only one in ten 10-year-olds in sub-Saharan Africa can read a simple sentence, despite many having completed several years’ schooling. 

That translates to some 617 million children and adolescents not achieving minimum proficiency levels in reading and mathematics, according to UNESCO estimates. 

However, an ambitious project spearheaded jointly by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) and Sopra Steria seeks to combat this child illiteracy by leveraging the power of AI and cloud computing to create a huge range of open and accessible educational resources. 

The Global Digital Library (GDL) uses tech to solve real-world challenges by translating and creating new educational assets in children’s mother tongue.

The project seeks to align with UN Sustainability Goal number 4, ensuring inclusive, equitable and quality education for all and improving basic reading, writing and arithmetic. 

The goal of the Global Digital Library is to provide children with learning resources in a safe, open, and inclusive digital platform, translated and available in both majority and minority languages. 

AI creating new educational resources 

The Global Digital Library is a collaborative project with global actors including Unesco, Unicef, The Global Book Alliance and Creative Commons. 

The Library contains more than 11,000 reading and math resources, translated into more than 140 minority and majority languages because we know children learn best in their mother tongue. 

The project provides more children and young people with access to learning resources in a language they use and understand. 

The content is open source, interoperable, and available to everyone, and is designed for teachers, parents, and publishers, and most importantly, children. It is accessible on all mobile devices and can be used in offline mode. 

In addition to children's books, GDL now also has mathematics games and videos for children aged 6 to 12 based on content from Khan Academy. 

The content is created by Sopra Steria employees with educational and mathematical backgrounds. Many of the games have great illustrations that allow children to absorb the content through text and visuals. 

600 million children and young people worldwide lack basic skills in reading and maths. The GDL uses AI and cloud tech to create open, accessible education resources in children’s mother tongue. 

Huyen Tran Titti Ho Brekken

Senior Adviser, Department for Knowledge and Innovation, Norad

Strategic marketing to raise GDL profile 

Sopra Steria also developed a web platform to host all learning resources and uses artificial intelligence to translate and produce new assets. 

Sopra Steria is also boosting the Library’s accessibility, and visibility through strategic marketing, direct contact with key partners and workshops, and their software engineers have created interactive games to make learning more fun. 

The project has also worked on reading training resources for children who cannot read, initially in English. These will be published in 2024. 

The project collaborates with partners to translate books and math games into different languages but also to increase the use of resources. 

Today, the Library has more than 670,000 users, mainly across Africa and Asia, and this is just the beginning. 
Cloud tech to create a sustainable digital library 

Although the Library has content in some 140 languages, it has the capacity to accommodate content in some 300 languages. 

Last year, the "Translate a Story" translation campaign led to the production of more than 700 children's books translated into 12 Ghanaian and 29 Indonesian languages. 

This was done in close collaboration with Unesco teams in France, Ghana and Indonesia, and their respective governments. 

Next, the focus is on the use of resources. Our pilot school programme, where resources will be tested over a minimum 6-week period in close collaboration with teachers, launched in South Africa, Ethiopia, and Vietnam. 

The goal is a sustainable library that can be maintained and operated by partners, schools, and teachers. Assets are designed to be used in schools and in children’s free time, in libraries, and at home. 

Test-and-learn platform methodology 

Regular feedback from teachers and students using the resources will give us opportunities to continuously improve and develop the resources. Teachers will also be able to create their own resources for the library. 

Sopra Steria developers improved the GDL platform, adapting H5P interactivity and facilitating download and sharing solutions. We use a test-and-learn approach to implement feedback from users, and in collaboration with designers and content teams, we work to make the platform as user-friendly as possible and tailored to the target audience. 

Insight, illustrations, and landing pages UX designers create flow and display both on the platform and in resources based on regular user tests conducted by children and youth in Africa and Asia. We have contributed thousands of illustrations used on the website, landing pages, and social media campaigns. 

The target audience is far from Norway geographically and, in many cases, culturally, and being close through conversations, interviews, observation, and user testing has provided valuable insight into the development process. 

Data-informed marketing strategy 

Our marketing specialists have been running data-driven marketing campaigns targeting the markets of Rwanda, Ghana, and Kenya for several years. The goal has been to reach parents and teachers to create awareness, traffic, and boost platform use. With a data-driven approach, we build strategies based on data and insight. 

Sopra Steria has produced videos and dynamic ad content with visual material for campaigns such as Hey teacher! and Hey parent!, using different formats and ad placements that play on the strengths and characteristics of each location in channels like Google Ads, Facebook, Instagram, Display, and YouTube. 

Numbers and statistics are collected and analysed in Google Looker Studio so we can adjust Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and assess success based on the goals set for each campaign. 

In addition, campaigns are synchronised to run alongside relevant international educational conferences with geographical targeting. For example, we set dedicated social campaigns alongside Digital Learning Week in Paris and the MEducation Alliance in Washington, to build brand awareness for the platform for possible partners. 

Sopra Steria also produces content for weekly posting on social media, X (Twitter), and LinkedIn, to highlight content in the platform. 

We want more users, more reach, and more content, especially games and interactive learning resources. The potential for tech to contribute is huge. 

Tech offers an unprecedented chance to democratise education. Because in the end, every child deserves the right to learn, regardless of where they live. 

  • 11,000 reading and maths resources on the GDL
  • 140 different languages currently available on the platform
  • 670,000 regular users of the platform, mainly spread across Asia and Africa

We’re delighted that our AI and cloud insight has had such a profound, transformative and positive impact on this critical education project. 

Cecilie Eftedal

Content Lead, Sopra Steria Norway







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