The Strategy for Execution | RightToRead – English Reading Comprehension Program in Government Schools
RightToRead is a reading comprehension initiative by EnglishHelper to deliver technology-enabled English literacy to government school students in India and across the world. The program leverages existing textbooks and is integrated with the school timetable. This enables teachers to teach curriculum-based English in classrooms.
The RightToRead program is underpinned by three strategic pillars that serve as guideposts:
a) Achieve massive scale, impacting the lives of school children from the lowest-income families
b) Partner with the public education ecosystem
c) Leverage technology
The First Step – Proof of Concept
The Proof of Concept was launched in 2013 in 100 schools, spread across 6 states and covered 20,000 students. EnglishHelper partnered with the American India Foundation (AIF) to take the technology-enabled AI solution to improve English reading comprehension of students. AIF has been engaged with government schools in India, established computer labs / AV rooms and built capacity of teachers to be digitally enabled. They had the knowledge, understood the context and had established partnerships with state governments. Partnering with AIF for the initial Proof of Concept was the appropriate first step in the journey to deploying technology-enabled English reading in government schools’ classrooms.
This was an incredibly intense period since we had to ‘learn and do’ at the same time! Our people were hands-on. A small team travelled across the country and worked closely with the partner on the ground in understanding the universe of government schools. Through calls and site visits, they obtained deep insights from every school, classroom, teacher and principal. They learnt what works and what doesn’t. They discovered enablers, they found the challenges and became adept at problem-solving. The success of this initiative provided us with much-needed confidence for large-scale expansion.
Method, Measures and Metrics:
The next phase was about demonstrating the ability to scale. In 2015, RightToRead reached 5000 schools impacting over one million students. This was possible because of the engagement of multiple stakeholders including the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Schoolnet and the American India Foundation. This Pilot at Scale needed an organised effort. We set in place project management systems; enhanced the use of technology for deployment, implemented measurements and reporting. Assessments were designed for deployment at scale and administered by independent third parties. USAID representatives and members of the media visited schools across the country to capture stories of transformation and change. Increased engagement by multiple stakeholders needed organised, consistent communication, total transparency and greater accountability. With independent assessments confirming 20-40% reading comprehension gains for students covered by the initiative, RightToRead was all set for massive-scale deployment.
Delivering the Vision – Massive Scale Expansion
Today, RightToRead is spread across 27 Indian states with a growing global footprint. The Sri Lanka government has approved implementation in all 10,000 schools in the country. In India, many state governments have begun allocating budgets to support the program.
Growth and expansion require constant innovation and adaptability whilst ensuring our commitment to delivering solutions affordably and at scale. The cloud-based technology enables users to download our reading comprehension solution using multiple devices. This AI software is simple to implement and use in class. In Maharashtra, across the state, thousands of government school teachers have downloaded and installed the English reading comprehension software, ReadToMe® from the ‘cloud’. In India and Sri Lanka, teachers have been trained virtually to use the software. Digital communication ensures teachers are oriented and trained at regular intervals on using the software and kept updated on enhancements. Usage is monitored remotely.
RightToRead will reach 20 million students in over 100,000 schools by 2020. Yet, the journey has just begun! This is the story of a strategy that has been focused on execution. That will never change.
— Priya Viswanath
This article is written by Priya Viswanath, Senior Vice President of EnglishHelper.
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