Around 10 million (1 crore) children enrolled in around 1.13 lakh primary schools of Uttar Pradesh will now be able to improve their vocabulary and pronunciation of Hindi and English, using tech giant Google’s app, ‘Bolo’.
The “Bolo” free app, launched in India in March 2019, uses Google’s speech recognition and text-to-speech technology. The app features an animated character, ‘Diya’, who encourages children to read stories aloud and helps if the child is unable to pronounce a word. It also lauds the reader when he/she completes the reading, state education department officials said.
Designed for primary grade children, aged between 6 and 11 years, Bolo helps improve both their English and Hindi reading skills, by encouraging them to read aloud. The app also gives instant feedback, said Prayagraj-based State Institute of Educational Management and Training (SIEMAT) director Sanjay Sinha.
He said that the app will also help teachers wherever they are in doubt about the pronunciation of a Hindi or English word.
For its introduction in government primary schools, the Samgra Shiksha Abhiyan project officials have agreed with Google and till July 30, parents of these children who have smartphones, have also been trained by teachers to use the app at home to help children, they add.
Google Bolo is a read-along app or a speech-based, reading-tutor app for Android-based smartphones. It can be downloaded for free from Google’s Play Store.
As part of efforts to implement Mission Prerna—the flagship programme of UP government to improve quality of education in schools running under the Basic Shiksha Department across the state— members of the state resource group (SRG), key resource persons (KRPs) and academic resource persons (ARPs) are giving online training to around 5.5 lakh primary school teachers of the state including assistant teachers, Shiksha Mitras and subject instructors, since July 20 on using Google Bolo effectively, state resource group member Sunil Tiwari said.
The app can also work offline and does not require an active internet connection, he said.
These teachers were given the mission of helping and training parents of children with smartphones, in their respective schools, to download the app and use it till July 30, he added.
Google piloted the ‘Bolo’ app in about 200 villages in UP last year and the results were encouraging with 64% of children showing an improvement in reading proficiency in just three months, state education department officials said.
The annual status of education report (ASER)-2018 report, they say, had found that only half the students enrolled in grade 5 in rural India can confidently read a grade 2 textbook. “Lack of reading ability can significantly impact further education, and ultimately children’s ability to realise their full potential. We expect this app to help a lot in this direction,” they added.