Small Steps, Giant Leaps Towards Enabling English Literacy in Nepal

Small Steps, Giant Leaps Towards Enabling English Literacy in Nepal

The RightToRead program aims at enabling English literacy through large-scale technology deployment with a multi-sensory AI reading and comprehension software ReadToMe® in classrooms. After establishing itself as an effective tool for English literacy in government schools in India, ReadToMe® went global in the year 2015. 

RightToRead is known for its easy-to-use technology, cost-effectiveness, scalability, and adaptability. Its successful implementation and assessments with positive results encouraged governments and associations from other countries to implement the program in their regions. 

RightToRead was launched in Nepal in May 2019 in 48 schools across 8 districts in partnership with NELTA (Nepal English Language Teachers’ Association). ReadToMe® is the first AI technology-based learning software to be introduced in the country. The pilot is being run for a year (Academic Year 2019-20). 

The program is being monitored through a virtual LMS providing real-time usage data. A scientific and research-based impact analysis study will be performed for the pilot through a baseline – endline assessment. This program is estimated to benefit over 5400 students across the nation.

The Need for a Technology-Enabled software for English Learning

The education system of Nepal witnessed major changes in the past decade. There has been a shift from the “one nation, one language” policy to a mother tongue-based multilingual policy (MTB-MLE) (for Nepal this means Nepali and English). The new constitution of Nepal (2015) recognizes 123 national languages, and English is one of them. Like any other developing nation, English in Nepal is an aspirational language.

However, even the present policies designate English to be taught as only an academic subject, and its usage as a medium of instruction is limited. There is also a gap in policy and implementation. 

Other challenges in the path of English literacy include- economic inequality which limits access to quality education, lack of training and support to English language teachers, geographical remoteness, gender, socio-economic and ethnic differences.

RightToRead Experience In Nepal

Within seven months of its implementation, ReadToMe® has received an overwhelming response from teachers and students alike. Schools in Nepal often lack basic infrastructure and facilities. Schools are situated in remote parts of the country with limited access to IT facilities.

ReadToMe® is deployed across regions in Nepal. Its easy-to-use technology allows the usage of existing IT-infrastructure.

Mr Bibas Jung Thapa, ICT Coordinator of NELTA, Makwanpur district is ecstatic about ReadToMe®. He feels English literacy is essential in the present century. According to him, “In the 21st era, ReadToMe® is the best solution to teach students with the help of technology. It expedites the learning process and students also understand well.”

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NELTA members and English teachers from various schools are trained via online training sessions. Additionally, a vast array of online videos has been provided to teachers to help them in using ReadToMe® efficiently. 

Mr Gunaraj Nepal, Chairman of NELTA, Morang district, also shares his experience of using the software. He appreciates the coming together of technology and education in classrooms through the multi-sensory software. “The translations in regional languages are very useful and my students enjoy reading from the ReadToMe® software”. In his words, “ReadToMe® can prove to be a very productive tool for generating interest in reading.” With such appreciation from teachers and students, RightToRead is positioned to help transform English literacy in Nepal.

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