PlanetRead

PlanetRead is a registered not for profit with the simple vision of a reading planet - a planet where everyone can read and has access to interesting and affordable reading opportunities in native and other language(s). We contribute to literacy worldwide by innovating and implementing simple, scalable, and cost-effective solutions, especially using mass media and information technologies.
Nov 25, 2016

PlanetRead Founder Speaks at TEDxCERN

Brij Kothari in action at TEDxCERN
Brij Kothari in action at TEDxCERN

Dear friends and supporters of literacy for all,

In India, 740 million people can’t read well enough to get the information they need from a newspaper. They can’t read well enough to manage a bus schedule, fill out a form, or make sure that a prescription is accurately filled. For them, illiteracy is not a theoretical struggle—it’s a daily disadvantage.

That population is equal to 100 times the number of people living in Switzerland. Why the comparison to Switzerland? Because Switzerland has been the setting for some of Bollywood’s biggest hit songs—and because Switzerland is the home of CERN, which on November 5 hosted the “Ripples of Curiosity” TEDx event. One of the innovative thinkers speaking at TEDxCERN was PlanetRead’s founder, Brij Kothari, who came up with the idea of using same-language subtitles for hugely popular Bollywood songs on Indian television as a way to bring some of those 740 million weak-literate or illiterate people in India into the light of literacy.

In his TEDxCERN talk, now available online, Brij shows examples from eye-tracking studies that demonstrate how same-language subtitles bring weak readers into inescapable engagement with written words. He cites inspiring examples of people who have gone from being unable to read beyond a few letters to being able to read well enough to manage modern life.

Brij notes that world leaders have supported his simple, innovative idea, quoting Bill Clinton’s praise of same-language subtitling (SLS) as “a small change that has a staggering impact on people’s lives.”

In pointing out that wiping out illiteracy is “simply a matter of a million people singing” along with subtitled songs from their favorite films, Brij also explains how inexpensive his solution is. “One dollar gives a lifetime of reading to a person.... To scale up nationally would cost a million dollars a year, and in five years we would transition 500 million weak readers” to literacy sufficient to read a newspaper.

Watch Brij’s TEDx talk—it’s well worth ten minutes of your time. And we hope you’ll agree with the TEDxCERN audience that increasing the reach of same-language subtitling for literacy is an effort worthy of your support! 

Links:

Aug 26, 2016

News: Early Grade Reading Innovation Challenge

Village kids engaged with digital story
Village kids engaged with digital story

Dear friends and supporters of same-language subtitles for literacy,

Imagine looking for children’s books in an Indian village and not finding a single one. In rural India, it's all too common for children to have nothing at all to read. But since over 700 million Indians watch television and there are nearly 200 million smartphone users, no books no longer has to mean no opportunities for reading.

For 20 years, PlanetRead has been using the idea of same-language subtitles (SLS) on television for mass literacy, and if you've followed our work, you know that our research demonstrates that this regular, inescapable reading practice is helping people of all ages become better readers.

A few weeks ago, we learned that PlanetRead had won the Early Grade Reading Innovation Challenge (EGRIC) from READ Alliance and USAID. With their support and yours, we are expanding our SLS work to integrate AniBooks--animated digital stories with SLS--into the schools and lives of Hindi-speaking children in Grades 1-3, or ages 6-10. 

Our sister company BookBox has been creating AniBooks to teach reading and language learning to children for some time, and we are in the process of identifying Hindi stories that will provide maximum benefit to the children in this program. We aim to deploy our content using Pico and other low-cost, low-energy projectors; computers already in the children's schools; mobile phones and smartphones, when those are available; and televisions already in homes in rural areas. As the program ramps up, we will be tracking the kids' reading progress through an app which will be accessible on mobile phones and tablets.

We are extremely excited about this new plan to leverage our SLS and technology experience to help children who are just beginning their education. READ Alliance and USAID are helping us bring the dream of full literacy for everyone in India a step closer to reality, and we are grateful to them and to you for continuing support!

Links:

Jun 2, 2016

Oracle supports PlanetRead's SLS for 2nd year

Dear Friend, 

We are excited to let you know that Oracle Giving has decided to support PlanetRead’s Same Language Subtitling (SLS) on national TV for the 2nd year! 

Last year, with support from Oracle Giving and Zee Entertainment, we added SLS to Hindi songs of 52 movies. These songs were telecast on both Zee Cinema and Zee Classic. Having successfully completed the first year, in March 2016, PlanetRead submitted a proposal to Oracle Giving to continue SLS of the Hindi songs for another year. We were then informed in April that Oracle will continue supporting PlanetRead’s work for another year. 

Same Language Subtitling (SLS) is simply the idea of subtitling mainstream TV content in the “same” language as the audio.  What you hear is what you read.  Several research studies have found that SLS causes automatic and inescapable reading engagement among the spectrum of early, weak and functional readers.  Especially on song-based content, film, folk and music videos, we now have strong evidence that SLS contributes to improved reading and language skills and even higher program ratings. 

For instance, five years of regular primary schooling in rural India, with no exposure to SLS, resulted in 34% functional readers, but with SLS exposure, resulted in 70% functional readers.  See: SLS in action in Indian villages: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tOsWToI2PIw 

Zee Entertainment has been extremely supportive of PlanetRead’s SLS for literacy. In fact there was a press release where Mr Punit Goenka, MD and CEO, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (ZEEL) spoke about the success of the SLS program and how Zee plans to extend this program to other channels as well. Click here to read the article

We are in the process of identifying the most suitable programs for the second year and will be starting SLS work soon. 

Checkout this photo stream on our Facebook page, which has snapshots of the songs we have subtitled. 

Coverage by SBS Dateline, April 2014, Australia: Watch on YouTube. 

Coverage by Deutsche Welle, May 2012 Germany’s international broadcaster: Watch on YouTube.    

Clinton Global Initiative Features PlanetRead “A small thing that has a staggering impact on people’s lives.” -- President Bill Clinton, Sept. 24, 2009. Watch on YouTube. 

The PlanetRead Story - documentary on literacy in India and impact of Same Language Subtitling. Watch on YouTube.

Links:


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