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Google Supports Indian's Novel Literacy Drive

oundation grantees," Kothari told IANS.

"When a billion people are illiterate - two-thirds of them women, and nearly half of the world lives on less than $2 a day - we believe it is important to examine the link between literacy and poverty," the Google.org team announced.

The PlanetRead project, operating in Mumbai and Pondicherry, uses the SLS method to provide reading practice to individuals who are excluded from the traditional educational system or whose literacy needs are otherwise not being met.

Kothari got involved with the literacy movement almost by accident. In 1996, he was watching a Spanish film on video with English subtitles. A Spanish enthusiast, he wished for subtitles in Spanish as well. Then he thought, why not subtitle Hindi film songs in Hindi, on TV back home, to spark a literacy revolution?

Kothari, an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur, has already won a sizeable grant from Development Marketplace, a global innovation competition conducted by the World Bank.

At Stanford as a Reuters Digital Vision Fellow, he also launched PlanetRead to take SLS to other countries.

"We also managed to spin off SLS into a social venture around children's animated 'books' at bookbox.com," he adds.

Three to five years of the SLS exposure, without any other educational inputs, can move a person from alphabet recognition to functional literacy, while neo-literates without any follow-up practice tend to relapse into illiteracy.

But Kothari's dreams are nowhere close to becoming part of a national broadcasting policy.

"Am I happy with its growth? Considering that we're making 200 million early-literate people read, yes, even if it has taken at least eight years longer than it should have."

--Edited IANS
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