A Deakin Business School researcher has embarked on an ambitious plan to provide free textbooks and learning resources to low-income communities across Australia and the world.
Researcher Michael D'Rosario is leading the project via Hyveminds, a business that produces the Learner Library collection of online textbooks, educational resources, videos and audio lectures, with support from Optus and the Future Makers Program.
Mr D'Rosario said Deakin University played a major role in kick-starting the project, with an initial donation of tens of thousands of physical books for him and a team of 30 graduate students and researchers to send to African universities.
"Deakin catalysed that, and was very directly involved in getting the original project off the ground five years ago by donating tens of thousands of books for us to distribute - those books are still being used in the libraries of emerging universities across Africa today," he said.
"But that led to us wanting to do more, and we soon learnt physical books can be hard to distribute - not just because of logistics, but because of the complex legal and bureaucratic processes.
"The team facilitated the donation of more than 20,000 textbooks to colleges in East Africa and India, however it became apparent that a more sustainable strategy was needed, and that's how Learner Library was created."
Mr D'Rosario and his team of educators, software developers, educational researchers and experienced learning and development specialists are now looking to expand the program into the Southeast Asia region.
"We're dedicated to making textbooks and learning resources available to all learners regardless of their means, and we've secured the support of publishers from around the world who share this belief," he said.
"It's been a very long journey to this point, but there has been a lot of positive feedback, and going forward the impact of our social change efforts is becoming much more significant."
The Learner Library subscription web platform makes more than 3000 textbooks and learning resources available to those in low-income communities.
The Hyveminds team's efforts were rewarded recently with an Optus Future Makers Award and $58,000 funding, and the opportunity to present before investors at this month's Asia Pacific Impact Investment Summit.
They were selected as one of just six regional Future Makers winners from Singapore, Philippines and Australia, from a field of more than 270 worthy competitors following an intense pitching process.
Mr D'Rosario thanked the Future Makers judging panel, which consisted of Optus Business Managing Director John Paitaridis, World Vision Chief Executive Claire Rogers, Grace Mutual Director and The Funding Network Chair Andrew Tyndale, and The Big Issue Chief Executive Steven Persson.
"With Optus' generous investment we will be able to extend our social impact across Australia and the Asia Pacific region," he said.
To find out more about the Hyveminds Learner Library, head to www.learnerlibrary.com
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