Note From the CEO, Center for Knowledge Societies
The landscape of education in India is changing very dramatically. If only a decade ago we were struggling to get all of our children into schools, the challenge of primary education today has to do with quality, age-appropriate learning, and higher order cognitive skills associated with reading comprehension, analysing rhetoric and making critical arguments.

At the same time, no part of our lives are now untouched by digital technology, wherein text is used in subtly different ways than it once was in the world of hardcopy print. Even as our children are exposed to new possibilities through mobile platforms, it is also possible that basic functional text input and output skills will be widely reinforced in ways that were once impossible.

The READ Alliance program is really about ensuring that our reading levels continuously improve. We are driven to search out what reading will mean to people over the course of this century, and the role technology will play in shaping reading behavior of future generations. These are some of the themes we will address through this issue of READ Express.

Dr. Aditya Dev Sood 
  • Note from the CEO, Center for Knowledge Societies
  • Expert Interview: Pranav Kothari, Educational Initiatives
  • READing for a Billion, With Bollywood 
  • Updates from the Field  
  • Early Grade Reading News at a Glance
  • Early Grade Reading Tools & Resources
  • From our Bookshelf
Join the READ Alliance Partner Network
Expert Interview: Pranav Kothari, Educational Initiatives

"Younger children below grades 5, have a lot of difficulty in decoding, however, older children can pronounce, decode but they have a lot of problems in interpreting the words and sentences. This also happens with their mother tongue language... Reading comprehension is the single biggest problem that India needs to tackle..." says Pranav Kothari (VP, Educational Initiatives). 

We chatted with Pranav on the use of technology for reading outcomes. 
Watch the full interview here

Updates from the Field

READ Alliance has identified a lacuna in assessing reading outcomes and is proactively supporting the development of a comprehensive adaptive testing tool (tech-based) for early grade reading skills. This diagnostic tool clearly defines the possible pitfalls and accurately indicates the skill gaps to achieve optimum reading fluency with comprehension. This tool also aims to provide customized instruction and practice time optimized based on the gaps diagnosed.

Educational Initiatives is the implementing partner for this diagnostic tool. They conducted a baseline test in three districts of Rajasthan: Kota, Bundi and Jhalawar where over 426 students (grades 2-5) attempted this test. Field observations and the results from the baselines test have helped formulate key recommendations on Language Acquisition and guides educators on how to teach and improve Reading Fluency, Writing, Spelling, Punctuation, Reading Comprehension, Sentence Construction, and Vocabulary. 

Read all the recommendations here

READing for a Billion, With Bollywood

Same Language Subtitling (SLS) is a deceptively simple idea of subtitling existing audio-visual content in the “same” language as the audio with the proven power to deliver 15-30 minutes of daily, inescapable and automatic reading practice to potentially a billion people in India.

Watch how Brij Kothari demonstrates the impact of subtitling songs and Bollywood films on literacy and reading levels across India. 

Watch video here

Early Reading News At a Glance
For better digital education, Maharashtra ties up with Nilekani’s e-platform
Times of India

The education department has discussed with EkStep, not-for-profit online platform to develop and host e-content based on the state's languages, mathematics and science syllabus with help from the tech-savvy teachers in the state...

Niti Aayog conducts workshop on school education quality index
The Indian Express

Government think tank Niti Aayog in collaboration with the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) organised the first regional workshop on School Education Quality Index (SEQI) to improve the learning outcomes among school children...
New learning plans could help 52 per cent class 5 rural students who can't read 
Economic Times

Instead of the traditional blackboard-and-chalk style of rote learning, these students learn by pictures instead of words, puzzles that help them find words, alphabet cut-outs they can put together and other uncommon learning aids.... 

How virtual reality can be the future of education?
Financial Express

Virtual reality will transform the textbook into a real-world scenario, and exponentially speed up the learning process with proper implementation of 3D immersion and virtual reality technology in hundreds of classrooms across educationally progressive schools and learning labs throughout the country...
Early Reading Tools & Resources

Zaya Learning Labs
Zaya Learning Labs is a venture-backed, award-winning social enterprise based in India. Zaya’s "English Duniya" is a mobile Android app which aims to teach children aged 8-12 basic vocabulary, grammar, listening and reading comprehension. The child is led through its personalized learning journey by a map and an avatar, earning points and unlocking new words in the process. The app works offline and uses the child's mother tongue to teach English.

Twitter Handle- @zayalabs

Karadi Path Education Company  
Karadi Path methodology is an indigenously developed language learning process that is revolutionizing the way language proficiency is achieved in schools. Their Magic English-SLL is a 2-year, 2-levelled program specifically designed for students coming from English-deprived environment. Each level consists of 72 sessions of 40 minutes each (96 hours total). The sessions are included in the school's regular timetables, typically running three sessions each week. The audio visual mode of program delivers a rich English learning environment in the classrooms. Through a series of videos, the children recognize that each letter has at least one sound and understand how letter sounds can combine to form the words we speak. This leads to a rapid transformation from a phonic-reading approach to a sight-reading approach. The words progress from simple to difficult, and the sessions progress from reading individual words to reading phrases and sentences.

Twitter Handle- @KaradiPath

Worldreader, a San Francisco based non-profit has piloted a mobile technology project in India – “M-Reading to Children.” The goal of the pilot project is to improve literacy rates by educating parents on their role in developing children’s literacy skills and by increasing access to a digital library of books and other educational resources via mobile phones. Read to Kids by Worldreader is a free and vast online library housing thousands of English and Hindi books. It is available on any internet-enabled mobile phone, including the most basic feature phones.

Twitter Handle-  @worldreaders 

Educational Initiatives Pvt. Ltd.
Established in 2001, Educational Initiatives (EI) believes in making a difference in education through personalized learning and ensuring that students learn with understanding. EI’s adaptive e- learning program for languages called Mindspark (for Hindi, Gujarati and English) allows students to learn languages by employing a constructivist theory of learning by answering questions that are appropriate to their current understanding on either tablets, desktops or laptops. It remediates misconceptions and supports teachers in schools to teach where the need is as opposed to a regular rehearsal based on his/her own intuition on what kids don’t know.

Twitter: @mindspark_ei
From our Bookshelf

Mobile Devices for Early Literacy Intervention & Research with Global Reach

In this paper, researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Tufts University, and Georgia State University in the U.S. examined the use of tablet computers loaded with literacy applications in a range of educational environments. This article provides beginning evidence for the potential of this platform to benefit students across diverse under-resourced educational settings. 

Read the paper summary here

We'd be happy to expand our horizons and include updates and upcoming events related to early grade reading from your organization. Feel free to drop in a line to us at 

*READ Alliance is supported by United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and being implemented by Center for Knowledge Societies (CKS). This newsletter is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of CKS and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.
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