Early Grade Reading Innovation Challenge 2014

Innovation comes from looking at challenges from both outside and within- by understanding what it may mean to be a child who is unable to read, a teacher who is at a loss for training children to read, or a community which is unable to provide their children with a culture of reading.READ Alliance defines ‘innovation’ broadly to include novel business or organizational models; operational or production processes; technologies; or services that lead to substantial improvements in reading outcomes and address such challenges. We partner with diverse grassroots, for-profit organizations who are translating this principle on ground-developing reading interventions that support and empower communities, bring new technologies to them and nurture ways to teach reading.

Launched in early 2014, the Early Grade Reading Innovation Challenge (EGRIC) identified innovative reading interventions and supported them to develop and scale up their programs. Two intervention projects were identified after a rigorous evaluation, due-diligence done by experienced experts from the education and development sector. This entire process spanned over a period of eight months and was quite in-depth and rigorous.

The first stage involved an organization to establish proof of concept and viability of innovation through prototype development and small pilots. The second stage was meant to test the scalability and adaptability of projects that have been implemented, albeit at a limited scale. The third stage was for helping successful programs transition to widespread adoption. The sub recipients of EGRIC 2014 are ‘QUEST’, and ‘Karadi Path Education Company Pvt. Ltd.’

Google for Education
Apps for Reading Challenge

READ Alliance partnered with Google for Education, USAID and 10,000 StartUps India to launch a Hackathon, where app developers from all over the country were encouraged to build Chrome apps for India’s primary school aged children with the objective of creating interest and improving their reading skill.

The apps were developed over a period of four months and were closely reviewed and evaluated by the jury. The criteria for these apps to win the Hackathon was that the app should address one or more of the following three reading themes

  • Decoding (the ability to put together letters and sounds to form words),
  • Comprehension (the ability to understand and relate to what one is reading)
  • Reading for Joy (the ability to take interest in the act of reading).

The objective of this Hackathon was to bring together diverse communities of publishers, coders and app developers to develop apps around early grade reading. The winners of the Hackathon were Kahaani by Team Mirage, Action Story by Team Finnler, Race with Words by Team Nextwave_RWW.

Kahani by Team Mirage

“Kahani” is, in simple terms, an app for children which would help them experience the “Joy of Reading” while testing their “Comprehension” skills as well.

The present version of Kahani is a packaged app and hence can be accessed offline as well. The current Beta version of the app is available for download and contains 4 stories with various animations. After each story, children have to answer a few questions which try to test their comprehension skills through a set of multiple choice questions involving various games. The app mainly caters to the age-group of 6 to 10 through the concept of stories. However, since story-telling can be an all-time favourite for everyone, even parents can find it equally interesting. The current version of Kahani comprises of 4 stories in English as well as Hindi to make the interface user-friendly. In a nutshell, this app nurtures reading through stories which garners the attention of the children as well as enhances their reading and learning skills. A go to app for users who want their kids to experience the joy of reading.

Action Story by Team Finnler

Action Story is a free interactive app to improve English comprehension through an innovative way of providing the user the freedom to choose a path for the character.

“I hear and I forget; I see and I remember; I do and I understand” is what Action Story strives to achieve. Action Story is a free interactive app to improve English comprehension. It allows the users to choose the path the character takes and accordingly build on the course of their story. They can create small acts in a story based on clues prompted in the app. The children can learn how to structure sentences and meaning of words by indulging in an interactive-story generation. This app aims to trigger the imagination of the children as well as make them read and learn sentences during the journey. The best part of the app is that the interface is very simple. No added cost is required to use the app.

Race with Words” by Team Nextwave_RWW

Race with words is a race game which forces gamers to rack their brains and find those words that will pave the way to glory. A racing game with a bunch of cute bunny rabbits.

Race with Words is designed exclusively for children to exercise their mind by building words and sentences in a fun way. The game enhances the vocabulary and sentence making skills with two different modes; word mode and sentence mode.

Sentence mode: The sentence mode also makes the user to create proper sentences out of jumbled sentences to earn points and win the race. The Race with Words is appropriate for age 6 onwards. The best part of the app is that children can learn new words while cute bunny rabbits race them to the finish line.

Race with Words is designed exclusively for children to exercise their mind by building words and sentences in a fun way. The game enhances the vocabulary and sentence making skills with two different modes; word mode and sentence mode.

Early Grade Reading Innovation Challenge 2015

Research done by READ Alliance identified some key contextual and systemic factors that contribute to low reading attainment and impede positive reading outcomes for students which are given below:

  • Inadequate teacher training and insufficient teacher knowledge
  • Unequal access to facilitative learning environments
  • Unavailability of appropriate reading materials in schools
  • Inadequate instruction time allotted to language teaching and reading practice in schools
  • High primary school dropout rates
  • High student to teacher ratio
  • Inadequate attention to oral language development

Basis these key contributory factors, applications were invited from organizations that focus on either ‘actors’ (students and teachers) or ‘inputs’ (resources and materials). Moreover, the interventions had to be innovative with a focus on addressing a combination of curricular and pedagogic change (including materials and assessment methods); teacher knowledge and support; and/ or support at the school/district level. The sub-recipients selected and funded through EGRIC 2015 are Agragamee, PlanetRead, Humana People to People India & Educational Initiatives.