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Thursday, April 10

Power of Sub-titles

I had to write about this.

Girirajsingh Natubha studied up to Class 2 in Jamnagar. All his life he struggled to read simple words. A few years ago, however, he found to his surprise that he had begun to read.

It happened quite amazingly after he began watching Chitrageet, a Gujarati television programme of film songs, which had subtitles at the bottom of the screen.

Since he knew many of the songs, he could anticipate the next word. When it appeared he would read it unconsciously and sing along, karaoke style. Soon he found he was able to recognise words in the bazaar and before long he was reading headlines in the newspaper.

A brainchild of Dr Brij Kothari, a social entrepreneur and an IIM Ahmedabad professor(now at Cornell), 'Same Language Subtitling' is a simple but powerful idea which is proven to improve literacy among adults and children.

You can read the rest of the article here.

Dr. Kothari won the $250,000 global innovation prize from the World Bank, which he has used to pay for the cost of subtitling.

For the past five years, every Sunday morning, 15 crore persons have watched Chitrahaar and Rangoli with subtitles. A Nielsen-ORG study, conducted in 2002 and 2007 to assess the impact of subtitling, showed that only 25% school children could read a simple paragraph in Hindi after five years of schooling.

However, this jumped to 56% if they were also exposed to subtitling for 30 minutes a week on Rangoli. Equally dramatic results were found among adults.

Is there a way to micro-fund Dr. Kothari and his efforts. And not just in money. Imagine, all the Internet connected people, the active user base of 20mn volunteered to sub-title the TV content for a literacy movement in India!
Far better than mere burning candles to support causes!

Could Infosys, Wipro, or some company volunteer their computing capacity to help in this endeavour. What better way if some of us can help all of us!

Dr. Kothari gets the Grand Prix for his big idea!! How do we help such social entrepreneurs guys?

1 comment:

Anil P said...

That reminds me. There was this rickshaw guy I used to travel with regularly.

His conventional education was next to nothing, and he would despair over how he would cope with teaching his daughter when it was time to put her through school, since he could not read.

As we negotiated Mumbai roads I got him into reading text on the back of vehicles, signboards on buses, sayings on the beack of trucks to aid 'character' and 'word' recognition.

Over time his ability to read improved.