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Literacy for a Billion in India!

by PlanetRead
Literacy for a Billion in India!
Literacy for a Billion in India!
Literacy for a Billion in India!
Literacy for a Billion in India!
Literacy for a Billion in India!
Literacy for a Billion in India!
Literacy for a Billion in India!
Literacy for a Billion in India!
Literacy for a Billion in India!
Literacy for a Billion in India!
Literacy for a Billion in India!
Literacy for a Billion in India!
Literacy for a Billion in India!
Literacy for a Billion in India!
Literacy for a Billion in India!
Literacy for a Billion in India!
Literacy for a Billion in India!
Literacy for a Billion in India!
Literacy for a Billion in India!
Literacy for a Billion in India!
Literacy for a Billion in India!
Literacy for a Billion in India!
Literacy for a Billion in India!
Literacy for a Billion in India!
Literacy for a Billion in India!
Literacy for a Billion in India!
Literacy for a Billion in India!
"Turtle
"Turtle's Flute"

We're delighted to announce that we've completed our third milestone in the "AniBooks for Early Grade Reading" project supported by USAID and READAlliance. Things are happening very quickly!

AniBooks are animated, digitally delivered stories that use PlanetRead founder Brij Kothari's innovation, Same-Language Subtitling (SLS), to help children make advances in reading and critical thinking. The reason AniBooks appeal to students is no surprise: children everywhere like to watch cartoons! And with the addition of SLS, these cartoons are educational, too. Children watch the subtitles and get inescapable, automatic reading practice that helps them become truly literate.

The main goal of the "AniBooks for Early Grade Reading" project is to integrate AniBooks into the schools and lives of children in Grades 1-4 (roughly ages 6-10) to support the development of reading skills. The project targets select schools in the priority Hindi states (Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, and Chhattisgarh), in partnership with organisations that have the experience and infrastructure to distribute and deploy digital content on existing screens in schools and homes. 

Where are we so far on this project?

  • We've created 20 Hindi-language AniBooks. Among the animated stories newly translated to Hindi are "The Elephant King" ("Haathi Raja"), "The Red Raincoat" ("Laal Barsaati"), and "Topsy Turvy" ("Ulat Palat").
  • We've met with reading specialists and educators to determine the types of activities that would be most helpful as accompaniments to the AniBooks, and we've created educational activities in Hindi for the first 10 of our 20 Hindi AniBooks. The activities focus on letters and sounds (for students in lower grades), vocabulary, comprehension, grammar, and problem-solving.
  • We've signed agreements with four distribution partners who have the experience and infrastructure to help us distribute AniBooks to children in the priority Hindi states.

We're very excited to get this project underway! We recently did field testing with grades 1-2 at a rural government school to get a sense of the level of understanding among children who have few reading resources available. Learning through association, connecting concepts and ideas, and inferring information are meaningful skills, and children in such schools sometimes have little experience with them. Our lessons were based on the AniBook "Turtle's Flute" in Tamil, and in the first session, we asked the children to draw pictures showing some things they expect from the story.

We've also been testing our newly developed Hindi activities with children who are students of Hindi as a second language and have basic knowledge of reading and writing in Hindi. They watched three stories—"The Greatest Treasure," "The Whispering Palms," and "Too Many Bananas"—and did activities on paper.

These field tests help us understand what children of various backgrounds and educational levels need from the stories and activities we're developing. Stay tuned for more about our findings in future updates from PlanetRead!

We are very excited at the strides we're making toward getting AniBooks in classrooms in India. And, as always, your support helps us immeasurably! Our inexpensive, cost-effective literacy programs make the most of your contributions, and we would be very grateful if you would consider making a donation today.

Field test with children at government school
Field test with children at government school
Activity field tester Joanna
Activity field tester Joanna
A completed activity from one of our field testers
A completed activity from one of our field testers
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:

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:

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:


Attachments:

Dear Friend, 

I am pleased to submit the following report on the Same Language Subtitling (SLS) project we carried out with the support of Oracle Giving. 

We were invited by Oracle Giving to submit a proposal in February 2015 following which an application for subtitling 30 minutes of Bollywood songs every week for one year, was submitted. In April 2015, PlanetRead was selected as one of the grantees by Oracle.

By end of May 2015, PlanetRead completed the due diligence as required by Charities Aid Foundation by submitting all the required documents and information. We signed the MoU on 25th May 2015 following which we received the grant of $20,000 in the first week of June 2015.

From the month of April itself, we had started the ground work for identifying the right channel partner to telecast the songs with SLS. We approached Doordharshan and had several rounds of discussions and meetings in order to choose the program that we will work on. Unfortunately, Doordharshan was not able to provide us with a program for SLS.

Due to the lack of support from Doordharshan, we decided to approach Zee TV, with whom we had already been working with for over 2 years. Having seen the value of Same Language Subtitling (SLS) for literacy development, they agreed to give us another slot of 30 mins of Same Language Subtitling per week for another year.

In August 2015, we started subtitling the songs of popular Hindi movies for Zee TV and they have been telecast on both Zee Cinema and Zee Classic since 1st October 2015.

The aim of this Oracle supported project was to add SLS to songs of 52 movies that will be telecast over a period of one year. With Oracle’s support, we added SLS to all the songs in 52 Hindi movies (one movie per week). The average number of songs per movie is 5 to 6 and the length of each song is about 6 mins thereby giving 30 minutes reading practice. Weak readers benefit the most when there is an increase in quantity & frequency of SLS exposure. For example a weak reader who watches 3 hours of SLSed songs per week will benefit much more as compared to a weak reader who watches only 30 mins of SLSed songs per week. 

As of date, we have subtitled all 52 movies and roughly half of those movies have been telecast on Zee TV. The songs we subtitle appear with credit to Oracle and CAF. View a sample clip.

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

Here are links to other documentaries and work we have done: 

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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Organization Information

PlanetRead

Location: Pondicherry - India
Website:
Project Leader:
Brij Kothari
Founder and President
Piedmont, CA United States
$3,014 raised of $50,000 goal
 
55 donations
$46,986 to go
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