Rapid Literacy

Even 65+ years after independence, India is not developed, with 400+ million people illiterate and living in poverty. It’s a grim situation at government schools across the country, where a majority of children (our future) get their education.

Consider these facts:

  • Wide learning gaps and deficiencies in reading/writing ability. E.g., % of 5th class students who can read 2nd class text is decreasing: 50.3% (2009), 43.8% (2011), 41.1% (2013) (ASER report).
  • Learning by rote (without understanding concepts) is the norm. Learning at schools (especially language learning) is often a dull and boring chore.
  • It’s very common to see students struggling with comprehending subjects, and not having good grasp of either their native language or English. Whereas, strong language skills will lead to better marks, confidence, and opportunities in life.
  • Misconceived notions about English has led to falling teaching standards for Indian languages.
  • Scientific research has shown that skills learned through native language can be transferred to learning other languages and subjects.

It’s a widely accepted fact that Education holds the key to the nation’s development. In fact, the government of India’s 2014 manifesto included:

Education is the “most powerful tool” for the advancement of the nation and the “most potent weapon” to fight poverty.

Nations such as Japan, South Korea, Norway & Germany have prospered by having strong primary & secondary schooling systems. And they’ve done it by giving importance to their native languages. Consider South Korea and Korean for example:

 

Learning through one’s native language is especially relevant in rural India, where more than 70% of the population lives, and where there is little or no “cultural context” for use of English or learning through English. Learning through a language that children understand well, and can relate to well, rather than learning through an alien language (at least in the initial years of education) has significant advantages for all in the education ecosystem (teachers, parents, students, and administrators).

Even historically:

People of “Bharat” are inherently intelligent and capable – e.g., Aryabhatta & Bhaskara (Astronomy & Mathematics), Sushruta (Medicine), invention of “Zero”, flourishing Harappa & Mohenjodaro civilizations, Vijayanagar Empire – long before the rise of European nations and the industrial revolution.

The people of this land had it in them. Unfortunately, foreign invasions and colonialization tampered with people’s way of life, including the education system, and worse, broke the confidence of people, leading them to believe that their systems (including languages & etiquette) are inferior.

The British education system, which worked best for creating a large (clerical) workforce to run the British empire, is no longer relevant in today’s world.

Can we afford to continue with the existing education system that produces students who struggle with reading, writing and understand subjects; and that produces scores of college graduates who are not employable?

Or can we make learning interesting, exciting, and rewarding; and equip, empower, and inspire teachers with tools and methods that will bring out the best in students?

It’s time we used our inherent strengths to build a better future.

Now, despite the scientific nature of Indian languages, there are disadvantages and problems that are often overlooked:

Weakness1:

The very nature of Indian language scripts, which are inherently complicated & burdensome. E.g., most maatraas don’t have any resemblance to vowels, even though they represent the same sound. This problem extends even to consonants and “half consonants” in Telugu & Kannada. The sheer number of  letters, characters and deviant symbols (100+) required to fully learn an Indic writing system is burdensome.

 

Weakness2:

Teaching methods, which are typically slow, ineffective, and even counter productive.

  • Regular method teaches the “alphabet” for 1 year, after which a student can’t read/write even basic words such as तुम, मैं, अभी, माँ/నీది, నేను, అమ్మ
  • Several letters that are difficult to remember and pronounce - very little practical significance (ङ, ञ/ ఙ, ఞ)
  • Teaching methods more often than not fail to impart proper understanding of the basics of language (including word formations and spelling).
  • Spelling mistakes galore, despite the phonetic nature of the scripts.
  • Rampant inability to express thoughts and ideas clearly in writing.

This is where our Magic solutions will really help change the status quo and make learning easy, intuitive, exciting, and highly effective.

Rapid literacy and dramatic improvement in the skill level of students, and teachers’ ability to teach in an interesting and effective way are the need of the hour. We believe that…

How you can help:

  1. Sponsor a “Language Lab” for an underprivileged school (costs less than Rs. 50,000) and significantly impact thousands of students and tens of teachers.
  2. Volunteer for one of the projects that we are implementing along with Corporates such as Cognizant Technology Solutions and GMR Group (through their Corporate Social Responsibility divisions).

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