Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Same Language Subtitling - Innovative Measure to Up Literacy Rates

Way back in 1996, a certain Mr. Brij Kothari was watching a Spanish film on video with English subtitles. The love for grasping Spanish language made him wonder if he could have Spanish subtitles for the video to enable him better relate to the video. That thought sparked off a parallel thought process on implementing the same in Hindi film and song sequences, back home, and use it to boost literacy.

In a country where 500 million people of the billion strong population have access to TV, Dr. Kothari's PlanetRead organization has come a long way to prove that if implemented on a wide-scale, the idea of using 'Same Language Subtitling' (SLS) to make people literate would not be a mere pipe dream. An ex-IITian, Dr. Kothari today has been using Same Language Subtitling to reach out to nearly 200 million early-literate people. To aid him in the effort, Google foundation has come forward and provided him a huge grant under their flagship Google Foundation program that supports programs worldwide whose work addresses the challenge of global poverty in ways that are effective, sustainable, and scalable.

Working from Mumbai and Pondicherry, "Same-Language Subtitling” (SLS) methodology, provides automatic reading practice to individuals who are excluded from the traditional educational system, or whose literacy needs are otherwise not being met. This is an educational program rooted in mass media that demonstrates how a specific literacy intervention can yield outstanding, measurable results, while complementing other formal and non-formal learning initiatives of the government, private sector, and civil society", says Dr. Kothari on the official Google Blog.

If only all the TV channels in India adopt 'Same Language Subtitling' as part of their policy, we could be putting our best foot forward in turning India literate.

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