Apr 24, 2018

Oracle Giving supports PlanetRead's AniBooks

Child reading with an AniBook on a tablet
Child reading with an AniBook on a tablet

Oracle Giving recently announced that they will be supporting PlanetRead for the development of AniBooks with Same Language Subtitling (SLS). This is the fourth consecutive year that Oracle is supporting PlanetRead and we are deeply honored and grateful for their support.              

In 2015, Oracle first supported SLS on Hindi songs of the channel Zee Cinema, in the second year, PlanetRead continued the SLS program on Zee Telugu, in the 3rd year, Gujarati film songs on a program called Chitra Gurjari on DD Girnar were subtitled.

This year, PlanetRead will be producing 5 AniBooks (animated stories) in English and Hindi.

In the first phase of production, PlanetRead will partner with BookBox, which is a social enterprise born out of PlanetRead’s SLS innovation. BookBox has been creating AniBooks with SLS for over 12 years. The AniBooks are available free of cost on BookBox’s YouTube channel, which has over 62 million views and more than 275K subscribers. 

AniBooks are platform agnostic and available in the form of CDs, DVDs, internet downloads, mobile Apps and videos that can be played on TVs too. Usually produced in English the first time, AniBooks can be easily converted into any language. They currently available in a mix of over 45 languages (15+ Indian and 30+ international).

BookBox’s most popular story, Kiran Bedi’s How to lose a shoe at over 11 million views, The Greatest Treasure, has over 4.8 million views and Abdul Kalam’s Lesson for my Teacher at just over 2 million views.

The next phase of the project will be to make all AniBooks available on YouTube and distribute them via other educational programs run by other ed-tech companies.

For more information about PlanetRead’s work:

President Bill Clinton speaks about PlanetRead: http://tinyurl.com/39epgrm

Deutsche Welle, Germany’s international broadcaster: http://youtu.be/K7XDMzsLd5o

Coverage by SBS Dateline, Australia https://youtu.be/tOsWToI2PIw

Visit our website: http://www.planetread.org

Children watching AniBooks
Children watching AniBooks

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Jan 29, 2018

PlanetRead honored with iF Social Impact Prize

Brij Kothari with children
Brij Kothari with children

PlanetRead's work with same-language subtitles for literacy has been honored with a 2017 iF Social Impact Prize! Winning this prestigious award--selected by the top names in design and given in support of ideas that make progress toward one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)—will allow PlanetRead to make further progress with SLS initiatives, from subtitling film songs in multiple languages to creating anibooks for early-grade reading. 

The iF Social Impact Prize honors PlanetRead for "effect[ing] social change through design." "What does design have to do with literacy?" you may be wondering. As the iF website points out, "Often, innovation is the key to making an unique social impact, and since 'design is how it works' (Steve Jobs), design-minded people are in a unique position to make a difference in the way a service or product functions."

One such design-minded person is Brij Kothari, the founder of PlanetRead, whose innovative thinking about literacy started with his own "aha! moment" of wishing for same-language subtitles for a movie in a language he was studying. He recognized, too, that many "literate" people in India lacked the ability to read a newspaper. He wondered if adding SLS to content that people want to know, such as song lyrics, would help them move from identifying letters to reading words. He began to study the effect of adding SLS to popular film songs on television. The results were persuasive--you can read about them on our website (see the link below).

The UN Sustainable Development Goals show the path to a better world by 2030, and their aim is to "reach the furthest behind first." SDG 4 is "Quality Education," and PlanetRead's work strives to help everyone in India—children and adults, in school and out of school, rural and urban—become fully literate.

Go to the link below to learn more about the iF Social Impact Prize on the iF's ongoing "World Design Guide."

We're thrilled that Brij's simple, scalable idea has attracted this attention. Thank you to the iF Social Impact Prize committee, and thanks to you for your support!

Winners of the 2017 iF Social Impact Prize
Winners of the 2017 iF Social Impact Prize

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Nov 13, 2017

PlanetRead featured in BBC Future untold world!

We are delighted to let you know that PlanetRead was recently featured in "BBC Future untold world". Untold World is a special series from BBC Future that covers technology’s global impact, far beyond Silicon Valley. Discover more stories about how technology is profoundly changing underreported communities the world over.

This article is an excellent narration of our work starting from the very beginning right up to the latest discussions with the top government policymakers. And what's more, this article has already been translated into 3 more languages, namely: Hindi, Vietnamese and Bahasa Indonesia.

Here is an excerpt from the article: 

Yashoda, a resident in rural India, hops on the bus to a nearby village to visit relatives. Three years ago, she might not have been able to make that trip to see her family. She wouldn’t have been able to read the signs. Like a lot of women in her village, Yashoda never went to school. But a few years ago, the 42-year-old attended adult literacy classes held in Kalambusre, her village in the western Indian state of Maharashtra, and gained basic knowledge of the alphabet and numbers in her mother tongue, Marathi.

Beyond that, she couldn’t do much more than try reading simple words in a newspaper. But now she can read bus stop instructions. So how did Yashoda bring her abilities to the next level? Surprisingly – by watching a lot of TV. She used a programme that combines eye-tracking technology with karaoke-like subtitles that helps people learn the words at the same rate as they’re spoken or sung. It could be one way nations build up literacy globally

In 2011, there were 780 million literate people living in India, or 74% of the population. But an estimate from PlanetRead, an Indian non-government organisation, shows that at least 400 million “literate” Indians – mostly rural and semi-urban – cannot actually read a simple text in everyday life.

But the twist? There are also 780 million Indians who watch on average more than three hours of TV every day. Like many of them, Yashoda spends a lot of her time relishing Marathi-language movies on Zee Talkies, a private Indian broadcast channel. She enjoys reading along with the subtitles displayed with the songs. And it’s improved her literacy... 

Read the remaining article here: http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20170920-could-india-use-bollywood-to-improve-literacy

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