More than 40% of the global population does not have access to an education in a language they speak or understand

Quality education should be delivered in the language spoken at home. However, this minimum standard is not met for hundreds of millions, limiting their ability to develop foundations for learning. By one estimate, as much as 40% of the global population does not have access to an education in a language they speak or understand (Walter and Benson, 2012).

A great part of the world’s learning content is written in English or in major languages in the industrial world. We don’t know the exact shares for the most-used languages when it comes to learning related content in particular, but it’s reasonable to assume this to be proximately equal to the most-used languages on the Internet as a whole.

As of 2015, 55.5 percent of all web content was in English, followed by the next four most-used world languages Russian, German, Japanese and Spanish, adding up to an additional 21.5 percent. Compared to this, the lack of digital resources is striking for languages like Swahili, Bangla or Hindi which are mother tongue or commonly spoken languages for an estimated 60+, 200+ and 500+ million respectively.

The simple magic of reuse, sharing and collaboration


Two weeks ago I posted a blogg with a timeline of OER. After reading this, my friends in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia picked up the timeline and translated it into Amharic. This involved a different language, different plattform and context. The common thread is H5P, a tool I have blogged about many times before, that allows anyone to create, share and reuse interactive HTML5 content in their browser.


The important thing to notice here is that the team in Addis could reuse all the effort that I put in the timeline and at the same time just by translating it the timeline was available in a new language, something that would be impossible for me to do simply because I don´t know Amharic.

There is a growing edTech and OER community in Addis and this last weekend they organized a workshop where they also made their own timeline describing important events in Ethiopian history(see it at the end of the bloggpost). As a part of the same workshop they made an interactive test where you can test your skills on the most common Amharic words.


This put me up to the idea that I could make a new resource based on what they have made, and in fact make an OER in Amharic, a languages that I do not master. How? I made all the «cards» in the object below based on text from the team in Addis. Our common ground is that we all understand English.


When advocating for Open education resources, open source and open standards the message sometimes is lost in the complexity of all the technical issues. I myself have on more then one occasion struggled to explained the «magic of OER». In this case working with a small usecase like this just seams like a great way to demonstrate the magic of open educational resources.a

Check out this timeline on Ethiopian history: