This article covers an interview of Sanjay Gupta by Rajiv Singh, Forbes India. In this conversation with Forbes, Sanjay speaks about how edtech can help India’s low-income population achieve English literacy.
Sanjay highlights the challenges faced by EnglishHelper when it first launched the initiative in India. “It was extremely difficult for private operators to obtain entry into a cohort of government schools. The growth over the last few years, however, has been impressive. From working with 100 government and government-aided schools across six states in 2013, it has spread its network to 25,000 schools across 27 states so far. The target for next year is 1 lakh schools.”
During the conversation, Sanjay discusses the RightToRead Program, an edtech initiative undertaken by EnglishHelper that uses multi-sensory reading and comprehension artificial intelligence software (ReadToMe®) to enable reading of English textbooks. In partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the RightToRead program reached over 5000 schools across 8 states, covering one million students. Independently conducted tests recorded 20 to 40 percent improvement for students exposed to the program. The USAID partnership provided credibility to the program.
The article underscores the scale and challenges associated with learning English in India. The country has about 400 million people learning English. While about 250 million are school-going children, it is estimated that 150 million youths and adults aspire to achieve their desired level of English (mostly speaking) proficiency. While India has about 1.5 million schools, there are 1.2 million government schools. The government school system is not delivering, which is evident from multiple surveys. A significant majority of students who graduate from school are barely able to read or comprehend English.
The significance of technology as a scalable, viable solution to the language learning and literacy problem is discussed in the article. EnglishHelper has launched EnglishBolo, an affordable self-learning app, in partnership with Schoolnet. EnglishBolo is a 100 day English speaking program, that includes online teacher classes and AI technology enabled self-learning lessons. EnglishBolo is aimed at low-income job-age youth and can be accessed from any device and is also available on Google Playstore.
Edtech programs like EnglishBolo can reach their target through a variety of channels. In West Bengal, thousands of young women and men have registered with the West Bengal Employment Exchange. These young people are now using EnglishBolo to improve their spoken English. Sanjay is passionate about the future opportunities created by EnglishBolo, “the app is poised to become a significant provider of English language skill to this segment, and in many ways, lead the transformation of how India learns.”
The interview concludes with Sanjay providing a perspective on the global footprint of RightToRead. The program is currently spread across India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh in South Asia; Nigeria and Sierra Leone in Africa; Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala in Latin America. In Sri Lanka, the government has approved the implementation of the program in every school in the country. It is estimated all 10,000 schools in Sri Lanka will be covered by 2020. There are plans to introduce the program to China and south-east Asia over the next 12 months.
The original article has been edited by Rajiv Sigh and published by Forbes, India.
Click here for our innovative spoken English program – EnglishBolo™, a joint initiative of EnglishHelper and Schoolnet. To know more about EnglishBolo™ connect with us on YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook.