Foundation Notes: UK’s No Barriers in Bangladesh; PEN America Digital Archive Now Live

In News by Porter Anderson

As the young UK-based charity crowdfunds its Bangladesh books initiatives, the much longer established PEN America has material dating to 1966 in its newly launched digital archive.

Locales in which the UK-based charity No Barriers Foundation operates through partner schools

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Dual-Language Books in English and Bengali

Based in Manchester, England, the education charity No Barriers Foundation has announced its publication of dual-language books for Bangladesh, in English and Bengali.

No Barriers cites a 61.5-percent literacy rate in Bangladesh and reports that its dual-language initiative is a response to teacher requests in the region.

Kieran Roberts

“We know that within the countries we work in, local people know the issues around poverty and access to education better than we do,” says foundation director Kieran Roberts in a prepared statement.

“So when our teachers requested dual-language books we acted on it immediately. We’ve now produced two dual-language children’s books focused around our main character Rima, a girl who’s about to embark on her schooling journey.

“These books have been written to complement the national curriculum in Bangladesh and they’ll ensure that every child has access to quality texts.”

The charity operates through 15 partner schools in the region to reach its beneficiaries.

Roberts, who has degrees in law and education from the University of Manchester,

No Barriers operates through such partner schools not only in Bangladesh, but also in Guyana, Tanzania, and Kenya. Its program includes not only producing its own dual-language books but also hiring teachers. A relatively new charity, the program was developed by Roberts following a 2014 trip to Tanzania.

Roberts coordinates the Bangladesh work, while Isaac Ince coordinates for Guyana and Peipei Hu handles Kenya.

The organization has opened a fund-raising effort for the Bangladesh mission at the crowdfunding site JustGiving. More information is here.


Imagery from the 1986 PEN World Congress on ‘The Writer and the State’ at the PEN America Archive online

PEN America Digital Archive: 1,500+ Hours

The PEN America Digital Archive dates back to 1966, capturing the voices of literary luminaries; Nobel Prize winners in literature, economics, science, and peace; social reformers; philosophers; and political and artistic revolutionaries whose work, ideas, and actions explored and helped frame the most pressing issues of our time.

Comprising more than 1500 hours of audio and video recordings, the collection was launched online at the end of July and spans debate and discussion from the Cold War, the Civil Rights era, the Vietnam War, the Iranian Cultural Revolution and hostage crisis, the AIDS epidemic, the post-Communist decade, and September 11.

Arthur Miller, Susan Sontag, Toni Morrison, James Baldwin, and Allen Ginsberg are some of the literary luminaries you can see and/or hear in the archive.

To begin exploring this newly launched tool, we recommend starting with the archive index here. It offers breakdowns of the collection by subject and by author.

In a search for Joan Didion, for example, you’ll find that there’s audio of her introduction of Karen Decker Dougherty in 1987 when Dougherty was the first recipient of the Jerard Fund Award. And Didion is also heard, as are many others, in a multi-series event in support of Salman Rushdie from 1989.

Featured collections currently highlight “Thirty Years of Toni Morrison” and the 1986 PEN Congress: “The Writer and the State.”

The development of the archive has been supported by a grant from the US National Endowment for the Humanities.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He is also co-owner and editor with Jane Friedman of The Hot Sheet, the newsletter for trade and indie authors. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook, at London's The Bookseller. Anderson has also worked with CNN International, CNN.com, CNN USA, the Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and other media.