In April this year, the DELL Foundation through its YouthConnect program extended their support to PlanetRead for a 3rd consecutive year. We are indeed grateful to them for supporting our work and thereby helping us give reading practice to millions in India. The following article was posted on their website.
Recently, Bollywood films and music have gained popularity all over the world. But did you know that subtitling of Bollywood film songs featured in television programs is changing lives in India? Thanks to the work of PlanetRead — a Dell™ YouthConnect partner — about 30 million children, and millions more youth and adults with weak reading skills, can benefit by simply watching these Same Language Subtitling (SLS)-enabled programs. The potential of SLS is so great, and not just in India, that former President Bill Clinton and the Boston Globe featured it.
A recent study reported that 47.2 percent of rural, grade five children in India could not read a simple grade two-level story. This means about half of the children are not growing up to become readers. Enter PlanetRead and an innovative solution that introduces reading into homes where little or no reading was done before.
PlanetRead builds and nurtures reading skills through entertainment. The program integrates karaoke-like subtitling of film songs and music videos — in the same language in which they are sung — into television programs that people watch with a passion. In this way, students can immediately practice at home the reading skills they’ve learned at school.
The staff at PlanetRead believes that every child can and should gain basic reading literacy by the time they complete primary school. What’s more, they recognize that developing reading skills early in life will automatically solve the youth and adult literacy problem. For this reason, the organization places a special focus on preschool and primary school children. These “media interventions” in the home can’t help but contribute to the literacy skills of youth and adults, which puts everyone on the path to lifelong reading engagement.
PlanetRead strives for program effectiveness and growth by focusing on the following key goals:
- Driving education and media policy in India to increase SLS in all song-based content on television and in all languages
- Keeping its SLS active on 10 weekly programs in 10 languages
- Researching the impact of SLS
- Taking SLS to other countries
PlanetRead is using its Dell YouthConnect grant to implement SLS on 104 television program episodes. Each episode consists of around 30 minutes of film song content, which will touch millions of viewers in large states like Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Gujarat. Commenting on the significance of the partnership, Dr. Brij Kothari, PlanetRead’s executive director, said, “Being a computer giant, Dell is supporting an organization like PlanetRead that leverages TV. It demonstrates Dell’s genuine commitment to leveraging technology in innovative ways for positive social change.”