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Google launches Bolo educational app to improve children's literacy in India – TechCrunch

Google Expands its Apps Suite for the Indian Market with the launch today of a new language learning app for children called Bolo. Targeting primary school students, the app uses technologies like Google's speech recognition and text-to-speech to help children learn Hindi and English.

In addition, Bolo offers a catalog of 50 stories in Hindi and 40 in English, based on Storyweaver.org.in. The company plans to work with other organizations in the future to further expand its story selection.

The app includes a reading colleague called "Diya" who encourages and corrects the child when read aloud. When children read, Diya can listen and respond with feedback. (Google notes that all personal information is stored on the device to protect children's privacy.) Diya can also read the text to the child and explain the meaning of English words. As children move forward in the app, they are presented with word games in the app that reward them with in-app rewards and badges to motivate them.

The app works offline ̵

1; a need that is necessary in much of India – where internet access is needed – is not always available. Bolo can also be used by several children and will adapt to their own reading levels.

Google says he had tried Bolo in 200 villages in Indian Uttar Pradesh with the help of non-profit organizations ASER Center. During the tests, it turned out that 64 percent of the children who used the app showed an improvement in reading skills in three months.

To operate the pilot, 920 received the app and 600 the control group without app. Google says.

In addition to improving their skills, more students in the group with the app (39%) achieved the highest reading score of ASER than those without ASIL (28%), and parents reported improvements in reading their children's skills.

Illiteracy remains a problem in India. The country has one of the largest illiterates in the world, in which only 74 percent read a few years ago, according to a study by the ASER Center. It then turned out that more than half of the fifth-grade students in rural state schools in 2014 were unable to read second-grade textbooks. By 2018, that number had not changed much. However, only about half in the second grade can read ASER Now reported.

While Google today emphasizes its philanthropic efforts in education, it is worth noting that Google's interest in improving Indian literacy metrics also improves its profits. With the country still online and one of the largest Internet markets in the world, educated users who can use Google products like Search, Ads, Gmail, and others are becoming increasingly important to Google's business.

Already Google has delivered a number of applications designed specifically for Indian Internet users, such as data-friendly versions of YouTube, Search and other popular services, payment app Tez (now called Google Pay), a grocery delivery service, a neighborhood and Community Network App. Blogging app and more.

Today, Bolo will be launched as an open beta across India, while Google will continue to work with its nonprofit partners – including the Pratham Education Foundation, Room to Read, Saajha and the Kaivalya Education Foundation – a Piramal initiative – the app for to use more children.

Bolo is now available in the Google Play Store in India and works on Android smartphones running Android 4.4 (Kit Kat) and higher. The app is currently optimized for native Hindi speakers.

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