UNESCO and partners organize translation workshops with Bangladesh and Palestine

In the framework of the Translate a Story campaign launched in partnership with the Norwegian agency for development cooperation (Norad), the Global Digital Library (GDL), the Global Book Alliance, the UN Agency for refugees (UNHCR) and other partners, UNESCO co-organized two translation workshops with volunteer translators from Palestine and Bangladesh.

Following the success of the initiative in Uzbekistan, which saw 130 books translated into Uzbek, translators from Palestine and Bangladesh were mobilized by the Ministry of Education of each country to translate more books into Arabic, Bengali and five other ethnic languages in Bangladesh.

More books translated and revised into Arabic by translators in Palestine

The UNESCO Office in Ramallah worked with the Ministry of Education in Palestine to mobilize translators through the UN Volunteers programme. The translators were sent a list of books to translate into Arabic or to proofread before publishing them on the Global Digital Library platform. Christer Gundersen, Chief Technology Officer at the Global Digital Library, led the workshop, guiding the translators through the translation and quality assurance process step by step.

The Global Digital Library offers a free open source collection of children’s books. Currently in 72 languages, this collection enables children, who cannot go to school because of the pandemic, to have easy access to early grade reading materials in the language they speak at home. Additionally, the Global Digital Library recently added a new feature, with audio description for pictures and interactive games in order to make it accessible to visually impaired children.

A launch will be organized early next year with Qatar, who is also translating books into Arabic with StoryWeaver, another partner of the initiative, to present new books in Arabic available for free for teachers and learners in all Arabic speaking countries.

150 teachers and students mobilized in Bangladesh

Under the supervision of Mohammed Rafiqul Islam, an educational technology expert and the head of the Education and Life Skills Team for the Aspire to Innovate (a2i) program at the ICT Division of the Bangladesh government, and in collaboration with UNESCO Office in Dhaka, the Ministry of Education of Bangladesh mobilized over one hundred volunteer teachers and students to translate children’s books from the Global Digital Library from English into Bengali. To guide them through the translation process using the online platform, UNESCO and Norad organized an online workshop which was attended by 150 participants. After a live demonstration and explanation by Christer Gundersen, teachers followed up by repeating the instructions in Bengali to make sure all the students understood the presentation. All the students were given editorial rights to access the platform as well as a tutorial summarizing the key steps detailed in the workshop. UNESCO is closely following up with the translation team to monitor the progress. The UNESCO Office in Dhaka and the Ministry will also work together to mobilize students and teachers from minority language communities to add content in those languages to the Library. Once approved by the Ministry, the books will also be published on the official Ministry platform for a broader diffusion and easier access.