Over the last decade, surveys conducted across government schools indicate a significant gap in English reading and comprehension skills of students. This is a source of concern since English proficiency is important for social empowerment and improving the chances of higher education and job-related opportunities.
According to the Annual Status of Education Report, 2016 (ASER 2016) only 32% of children from Grade 3 could read simple words. The higher grades witnessed a consistent decline in English reading ability. Less than 50% of the children from Grade 8 could read simple sentences in English.
RightToRead – ‘Edtech for English Literacy’ Initiative
The RightToRead Program is an effort to demonstrate that a technology that supports reading and comprehension, can play a key role in solving the country’s reading crisis. RightToRead is an edtech initiative that aims to enable English literacy in India (and globally) with the help of multi-sensory reading and comprehension AI software– ReadToMe®. Research indicates, language is learnt best when learners are exposed to the language in a multi-sensory environment.
RightToRead Program In Government Schools Of Punjab
The RightToRead Program was initiated in 10 schools in Punjab in 2013 in partnership with American India Foundation. Schools, where ReadToMe® has been deployed in Punjab, were mostly in rural areas. Students were first-generation learners and learning English was a challenge. In government schools in Punjab, English is not taught in the early years and students begin learning the alphabet only in Grade 6.
In 2017, EnglishHelper conducted assessments to understand the impact of multi-sensory reading and comprehension software- ReadToMe®. 1160 students of Grade 6 and 7 were assessed to measure the impact of the RightToRead program. The Grade 6 ‘treatment’ group exhibited an improvement of 40% over baseline scores. Grade 7 exhibited an improvement of 53%. The assessments undertaken in Punjab reinforced that ReadToMe® has a positive impact on English reading and comprehension for children undergoing the RightToRead program.
Teachers using ReadToMe® continue to play a pivotal leadership role in the classroom. The teachers feel more confident about teaching English with the help of ReadToMe®. Hardeep Singh, a government school teacher in Punjab, says, “It is important to integrate technology in education and not remain backward.” Talking about his students, he says students wait for the ReadToMe® class eagerly and love the translation tool. The students are very attentive when they listen to the software read. It helps them deal with the complexity of English phonics. Hardeep smiles and remarks “the organisation is appropriately named ‘EnglishHelper’ as it has helped me interact better with my class!”.
RightToRead envisions a bright future for the government school students of Punjab. The program will give them the right skills to aim for better opportunities in higher education and suitable vocation.
The program is aimed at solving the English reading crisis in the country. RightToRead is demonstrating the power of curriculum integrated technology as a solution that enables English learning. The program is an example of blending technology and education to significantly improve English literacy in India.
Check out the ReadToMe® Dictionary tool here.
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