A lot has changed within the last decade. Smartphones and cheap internet connections have become ubiquitous and a basic need; far from the time they were seen as luxury goods. Don’t have a smartphone with a 4G internet connection? Good luck trying to navigate modern life: getting a cab or accessing basic government services will all suddenly be out of reach.
All is not hunky-dory, though. Technology is getting a bad rap these days. Depending on the day of the week, you might see alarming news about the safety of your personal data or visions of a dystopian future where artificial intelligence has taken away all our jobs. For an industry that was the darling of investors and common people alike, this is a big fall from grace. Does that mean that the ‘era’ of technology as a force for good is over? Is it now all evil all the time?
The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) are ambitious goals that, if fulfilled, will dramatically improve the quality of life of people worldwide. While governments may pay some service to these goals, entrepreneurs have stepped in to fill the void with solutions. Companies now leverage technology such as internet-of-things and AI to solve myriad challenges like water purification or smart electricity grids or even attempting to solve urban transportation challenges with innovative products.
Education and learning are not far behind. The RightToRead program was launched in 6 states in 100 schools in the year 2013, with the aim of improving English language learning outcomes through the introduction of technology-enabled reading. Within 6 years, it has scaled to over 20,000 schools (5 million children) within India and increasingly across the world. The RightToRead program has demonstrated real impact at scale, with students exposed to the program improving their English reading comprehension scores in independent third-party assessments.
The RightToRead program is powered by ReadToMe®, software developed by EnglishHelper that incorporates latest advances in diverse technologies ranging from text-to-speech to artificial intelligence, that is helping students in government schools from under-served communities read their own English textbooks better. The continuing success of the RightToRead program shows how relevant and easy-to-use technology can work wonders at the grassroots level.
Technology is a great equalizer and does not differentiate on the basis of caste, colour or creed. In making access to information and learning democratic, it helps bridge the gap between the haves and have-nots.
— Sriram Shankar
This article is written by Sriram Shankar, Chief Technology Officer at EnglishHelper.
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