Amazon Kindle has teamed up with the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation to fund a network of e-libraries in rural schools, in an effort to narrow the educational gap between cities

and underdeveloped villages.

The e-book reader unit of the United States e-commerce giant said initially libraries would be created at 10 rural schools in Yunnan, Guizhou, Henan, Hebei and Gansu provinces.

Officials said the project is based on a "charity bazaar'" concept. Prior to launch, the China unit of Amazon Kindle and the Chinese foundation worked together to collect articles written by the pupils in the schools, which were then collated into a book named Shulu Tongxing.

It's now available on the Kindle bookstore and any money raised through sales will be used for building e-libraries, along with other contributions from the companies, said Zhang Wenyi, general manager of Amazon Kindle in China.

Amazon Kindle will also give each school 10 of its Kindle Paperwhite e-book readers, each of which contain 500 e-books, meaning each school will get a total of 5,000 e-books - effectively the size of a small bricks-and-mortar library. And it will also donate a school bag to each of the 4,800 pupils involved.

"Through reading, we hope to narrow the educational gap between cities and villages, developed regions and underdeveloped regions," said Zhang.

"We hope the project will help pave the way for better educational growth of rural children ."

Ding Yadong, a director with the Chinese foundation, said books are needed desperately in many parts of rural China.

"Those who live in urban areas own about 88.9 percent of the country's reading resources, leaving just 11.1 percent in rural areas. But in fact, rural children's desire for knowledge and literature is no less than those of urban children," he said.

Amazon Kindle volunteers will visit the 10 rural villages and help students and teachers use their new Kindle devices. The company will also regularly update the books stored on them.

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(China Daily USA 02/10/2016 page14)