Google, Piramal Foundation to help 6 Lakh Indian children learn to read

Piramal Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Piramal Group, on Monday announced that it has tied up with tech giant Google for an initiative to help 6 lakh children in India learn to read with the help of Read Along, Google’s speech-based learning tool. Read Along allows students to use an in-app assistant called Diya to read text aloud, while providing positive reinforcement when they read correctly. The app is designed to run on entry-level smartphones with 1GB of RAM, according to Google.

The program was launched in 30 districts in six states – Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Chhattisgarh – which lasted two years, the Foundation said in a statement. Students using the learning app will have access to seven languages: Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, Gujarati, and Urdu.

Google’s Read Along app is currently part of three state government initiatives in India. Uttar Pradesh Mission Prerna, Gujarat Saathe Vaanchiye, and Telangana government’s literacy and numeracy program.

According to the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2018, only 50.3 percent of all children enrolled in the fifth standard can read at least standard level text.

According to the foundation, the literacy campaign will aim to help close this gap and empower 3,000 administrators and train 30,000 teachers and educators across India to help improve literacy among students aged 5-11.

The initiative is in line with the Education Ministry’s NIPUN Bharat (National Initiative for Proficiency in Reading and Understanding and Numeracy), which aims to ensure that every child in India achieves their basic literacy and numeracy outcomes by 2026–27, it added.

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