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The Hewlett Foundation Open Licensing and Early Literacy Research Grant

NBA, with a grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, conducted research and implemented projects to explore both the potential for open licensing to enhance the availability of mother‐tongue early literacy reading resources in the global South and the attendant risks.

Through an earlier Hewlett Foundation grant, research covered the impact of open licensing on the early literacy ecosystem, emerging innovations, and the implications for content creation, publishing, and use of reading materials in developing countries, primarily in Africa. Our research focuses on picture books that children can read for pleasure rather than ‘decodable’ texts that are used for instruction.

NBA carried out this work through both desktop case studies and action research, with participation from key players in Africa. This research explored whether open licensing can be employed sustainably by content producers – commercial and non‐commercial alike – in the global South, with a focus on Africa. The research also examined how the development of new technologies threatens to disrupt traditional publishing chains, and how these threats might be harnessed to create sustainable new business models.