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Google Supports Indian's Novel Literacy Drive

An Indian project meant to strengthen reading skills among neo-literates in a cost-effective manner has found favour with the Google Foundation. //

"This is not just any corporation supporting the Same Language Subtitling (SLS) project. It's Google!" exclaimed Ahmedabad-based academic Brij Kothari.

The US-educated Kothari, who teaches at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A), has developed the SLS, an amazingly simple but effective way of spreading literacy.

Yet it could be critical to India that has only 562 million literates in a population of over one billion, according to the 2001 census. Surveys indicate half the 'literates' cannot read a newspaper.

The SLS method leverages the reach of TV and a "national passion for songs" of Hindi cinema as well as folk and devotional music.

Existing TV song programmes are subtitled in the same language as the audio. As villagers read along the lyrics they hum - and without realising it themselves - their literacy skills are growing.

Kothari said the support from the world's most preferred search engine on the Internet "lends tremendous credibility and visibility" to the project and "allows us to dream about its implementation in all languages in India and in other countries too".

The Google Foundation supports selected organisations whose work "addresses the challenge of global poverty in ways that are effective, sustainable, and scalable".

The Foundation awarded Kothari's PlanetRead website (www.planetread.org) a grant to increase the number of same-language subtitling programmes available.

Google is also supporting PlanetRead with free advertising through the Google Grants programme and content hosting on Google Video.

The Google Foundation grant enables PlanetRead to scale up nationally by matching the government's support, programme for programme.

"It's an honour to be among the first few Google F
'"/>




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