Piramal Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Piramal Group, on Monday announced 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, a speech-based reading tool by Google. Read Along allows students to use an in-app assistant called Diya to read text out loud, while providing positive reinforcement when they read well. The app is designed to work on entry level smartphones with 1GB of RAM, according to Google.
This initiative has been launched in 30 districts across six states — Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Chhattisgarh — spanning two years, the Foundation said in a statement. Students who use the read along 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 programs in India. The Uttar Pradesh Mission Prerna, the Gujarat Saathe Vaanchiye, and the literacy and numeracy program of the government of Telangana.
According to the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2018, only 50.3 percent of all children enrolled in fifth standard can read at least a second standard-level text.
According to the foundation, the learning initiative will aim to help bridge this gap and empower 3,000 plus managers to train 30,000 plus teachers across India to help improve foundational literacy among students aged 5-11 years.
This initiative aligns with the Ministry of Education's NIPUN Bharat initiative (National Initiative for Proficiency in Reading with Understanding and Numeracy), which aims to ensure that every child in India attains their foundational literacy and numeracy outcomes by 2026–27, it added.
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