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Literacy for a Billion in India!

by PlanetRead Vetted since 2011 Site Visit Verified
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!
Studies showed that children read along with SLS
Studies showed that children read along with SLS

PlanetRead founder Brij Kothari was recently featured in the Harvard Economics Review blog with a post about two studies measuring the efficacy of same-language subtitles (SLS) to improve reading ability in Indian schools.

"The Reading Revolution Will Be Televised" describes one study measuring whether children pay attention to SLS when subtitles appear on animated stories ("AniBooks" created by PlanetRead's sister company BookBox) and a second study investigating whether the addition of SLS leads to improved reading ability.

As the post describes, thanks to the 2009 Right to Education Act, India has been extremely successful in getting school-age children into classrooms, but far less successful in teaching them to read in those classrooms. Kothari estimates that half of the children in grades 1-5 are falling behind in reading and are likely to remain functionally illiterate—unable to read at a second-grade level or better—unless action is taken to help them. 

PlanetRead's first study, supported by USAID and Tata Trust, followed children at a government school in Rajasthan. Using eye-tracking, PlanetRead researchers found that even those children with the weakest reading skills were automatically drawn to reading along with SLS. The study demonstrates that adding SLS to children's cartoons on television could offer inescapable reading practice for the vast majority of India's children who watch children's television programs at home.

 The second study investigated whether reading along with SLS would result in improved reading skills. PlanetRead researchers worked with children at low-income schools in Delhi, with half the schools getting regular classroom exposure to AniBooks with SLS and half serving as a control group. As Kothari explains, "The AniBook intervention alone contributed an additional 70% of an entire school year’s achievement in reading score."

Read "The Reading Revolution Will Be Televised" for all the details of PlanetRead's ongoing research, and please consider supporting our work to advance the cause of same-language subtitling for literacy!

Links:

Viewing a story with SLS in Rajasthan, India
Viewing a story with SLS in Rajasthan, India

For many years, PlanetRead has been working to convince governments, teachers, parents, and anyone who would listen that same-language subtitling (SLS) of media content could make significant improvements in viewers' literacy rates.

This summer, the good news has been spreading. In May, former UK education secretary Justine Greening observed that even a parent who is "not a great reader" can help a child become a better reader by taking one simple step: turning on the subtitles on television.

Social innovators Oli Barrett MBE and Henry Warren heard about Brij Kothari's research on same-language subtitling for literacy and began to wonder about this simple "life hack." They approached the National Literacy Trust, whose director, Jonathan Douglas, agreed that evidence shows the effectiveness of SLS.

In July, Oli Barrett published an article advocating for a "Turn On the Subtitles" (TOTS) Campaign in the UK and urged others to share it. Quoting Brij Kothari's statement, "If you want to teach a nation to read, just turn on the subtitles," Barrett has emphasized the need to encourage broadcasters to subtitle more media content—a longtime goal of PlanetRead's work.

"When I found out about the powerful link between subtitles and literacy, I couldn't believe more hadn't been done to join these dots," Barrett told the Manchester Evening News.

Other publications in the UK and Australia are helping to connect those dots at last with stories about PlanetRead's research and Barrett's ongoing campaign to support SLS. It's exciting to see word get out about this simple, scalable literacy solution!

We hope you'll support our efforts to expand same-language subtitling in India—and we would love it if you would share one or more of the articles in this report with friends, family, and followers. Thank you for supporting SLS and PlanetRead!

From PlanetRead
From PlanetRead's story "The Princess Farmer"
Student Scores, Baseline and Endline
Student Scores, Baseline and Endline

Since July 2016, PlanetRead has developed forty leveled AniBooks in Hindi, ten each for grades 1-4 (roughly ages 6-10), to help children become better readers. AniBooks are animated stories with same-language subtitles; each word in the subtitles is timed to appear as it is spoken in a recorded narration. Our goal was to integrate AniBooks into schools and then evaluate the impact of AniBooks on the reading abilities of children from very low-income backgrounds.

Over a seven-month period, in five schools in rural Delhi that had been selected to receive the AniBook intervention, teachers showed AniBooks in class three times a week. A control group of five schools with similar student populations received no AniBook exposure.

The reading skills of the children in both the treatment group and the control group were measured at the beginning of the study. The baseline measurements showed that the two groups had comparable reading abilities, with the mean scores of the control group slightly better than those of the treatment group.

After seven months, the children in both groups were tested again. All the children had made strides in reading, but the target group's reading scores had substantially surpassed the scores of the control group. The control group's mean scores went up by 26.9 points, while the treatment group's mean scores went up by 45.5 points. The difference in group means was highly statistically significant. (See the chart above.)

In seven months, children who got the AniBook intervention scored 69% higher on reading than children in control schools.  Schooling alone got 51% of the absolute non-readers started on the path to reading.  Schooling plus the AniBook intervention got 84% of the absolute non-readers on the path to reading.  The treatment schools’ mean comprehension score went up 80% more than control schools.  The strongest measurable impact of SLS on reading was on children in Grades 2 and 3.

We're excited that this project produced such strong evidence of the efficacy of AniBooks for students from backgrounds without many other opportunities to read. We hope you'll continue to support PlanetRead's work with same-language subtitles for literacy!

Janakpuri school, chosen to test AniBooks
Janakpuri school, chosen to test AniBooks
Janakpuri students involved in AniBook test
Janakpuri students involved in AniBook test

Links:


Attachments:
    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

    Links:


    Attachments:
    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

    Links:

     

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    Organization Information

    PlanetRead

    Location: Pondicherry - India
    Website:
    Project Leader:
    Brij Kothari
    Founder and President
    Piedmont, CA United States
    * This project is competing for bonus prizes
    through the 2018 Year-End Campaign. Terms and conditions apply.

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