Digitizing education presents an opportunity for 50 million Indian children to break the English reading and comprehension barrier

Mumbai: Improving ability of children in India to read and comprehend in English language has been a focal point for many years. The Indian economy that looks to harvest its demographic dividend is challenged by a looming crisis of the youth’s ability to read which gives them the global competitive advantage. In 2016-17, EnglishHelper™ commissioned independent assessments of students from various Government and aided schools covered by the RightToRead program. The primary grades of 3 to 5 witnessed a 21% higher improvement in English scores in an academic year for the Treatment group as compared to the Control group. Improvement in grades 6 and 7 was higher by over 20% in the Treatment group as compared to the Control group.

A Control-Treatment design was adopted for comparison of outcomes. Students who underwent technology-enabled reading under the RightToRead program were classified as the Treatment group. Students who were not exposed to technology-enabled English learning constituted the Control group.

Over the last decade, surveys conducted across government schools indicate a consistent and significant gap in reading and comprehension ability of students.

About 70,000 tests were administered in the Baseline-End line study across the states of Maharashtra, West Bengal, Gujarat and Punjab, spanning grades 3 to 7. The assessments included a Control group to identify comparable improvement in English reading and comprehension of students who were not exposed to technology-enabled reading of their English text books.

Presenting the report insights, Mr. Sanjay Gupta, MD and CEO, EnglishHelper said, “We are convinced that technology integrated with curriculum can solve every child’s reading challenge very quickly and effectively. We grew the footprint of this program from 20,000 students to over one million in just two years. We can easily replicate that 50x rate of growth and reach 50 million Indian children in equal time. We have demonstrated we have the skill. It now requires the will of the nation to enable the next giant leap.”

“Technology enabled reading and comprehension is an essential first step. Initially, we must solve for the basics e.g. literacy. However, in this new world of all pervasive technology our young must quickly transition to being computationally literate. In other words, internalise the ability to leverage technology for serving their learning and life needs. India must seize this great opportunity and take a leadership position as it solves for scale of numbers and disparities in skills simultaneously.” added Dr. Venkat Srinivasan, PhD, Serial Entrepreneur, Cognitive Scientist, Founder, EnglishHelper.

Importantly, for the students exposed to technology-enabled reading, improvement was distributed across all levels compared with the distribution in the Control group which exhibited positive changes mainly in the higher proficiency levels.

In conclusion, this study demonstrates:

– Superior reading improvements in students exposed to technology-enabled reading across all grades and in diverse geographies when compared with students not exposed to the program.

– Superior improvements are recorded for all students exposed to technology-enabled reading even when grouped by levels of proficiency when compared with students not exposed to the program.

– These results are consistent with the study conducted in 2013-14 which covered 20,000 students. In other words, it was possible to scale the program 50 X i.e. from 20,000 students to over 1 million students with similar reading related benefits recorded.

The outcome of the assessments has reinforced that multi-sensory technology-enabled reading has a positive impact on English reading and comprehension among children undergoing the program. Students undergoing ReadToMeTM classes were consistently seen to score higher in the End line from the Baseline, as compared to students who were not exposed to such a technology-enabled platform for English learning.