Mr. Opio instructs them to pull out their Amazon.com Kindle e-reading devices. Within seconds, most of the teenagers have a digital Oxford English Dictionary open on their screens. "It took the kids just a few days to learn how to use them," says Mr. Opio.
"Instead of just having 1,000 books, they have 10 times or 100 times that," says David Risher, co-founder of a San Francisco-based nonprofit called Worldreader that is leading the experiment in Uganda and two other African countries.
A vision of "one Kindle per child" for developing countries faces considerable challenges, including the cost of e-readers and making sure that kids actually learn better on the devices than with old-fashioned books. Africa is littered with well-intentioned technology programs that fail because devices don't get used, fall into the wrong hands or just can't find enough power to run.