Rural student often face problems in reading, and understanding simple text books in Hindi and English. To overcome this challenge, Google has come up with an app called Bolo, which aims at helping primary school children read and learn smoothly. The app aims at help students improve their Hindi and English reading abilities. The beta version of Bolo is operational in an offline mode and has been designed to work smoothly without internet connection.
As per the ASER 2018 report, only 27.2% of class 3 students were able to read the text books meant for class 2 students, while only 50.3% of class 5 students were able to read the books prescribed to class 3 students. “Learning gaps have serious implication in the future of the child,” says Nitin Kashyap, product manager, Google. The app that helps students read English and Hindi, will soon be available in several other regional languages.
“Efforts are being made to bridge the learning gap, but the pace has been very slow. Three major roadblocks include lack of access to quality education, limited infrastructure and barriers to learn outside the classrooms,” Nitin tell Education Times.
This speech-technology based app aims at helping children read interesting stories, learn new words and its pronunciation all by themselves. There are about 50 stories in Hindi & 40 stories in English. The user can choose from a variety of stories that are available free of cost. With the help of built-in reading buddy titled Diya, the app aims to inculcating reading habit among students. Diya not only reads the text aloud when needed, but also explains the meaning of English text in Hindi. At the end of the story, children can play interesting word games and earn in-app awards.
It took three-month research to identify the problem areas in young children. A team visited rural belts of UP to identify the problems faced by rural students. With a vision to improve the reading abilities among students through technology, Google realised it was crucial to have a one-on-one learning environment where a child could learn to read with the help of the feedback offered. “To meet this demand, Bolo app has been designed in a way to encourage, support, explain, and corrects the child, as they read aloud,” says Zohair Hyder, Engineering lead, Google.
“The speech recognition and text-to-speech technology will help rural students, who do not have teachers and educated parents to support them while reading,” he added.
“This is reading-tutor app that helps students to improve their reading — anytime, anywhere. Google aims to engage children, so that their love for reading grows and turns into a daily habit,” says Kashyap. There has been a shift in the mindset of parents in rural belt, who want quality education for their children. But, most of them have limited resources.
“While researching, we came across a mother from a village, who started to learn English reading through the app along with her children only to help them. The app could engage the children as well as their parents.”