Promoting Literacy in India through Mobile Technology

The Challenge

We know that reading to pre-literate children increases literacy uptake, book sense, and yields positive outcomes later in life. However, many children and their parents do not have access to age appropriate, relevant, and diverse reading material.

Can mobile phones play a role in increasing access to quality reading experiences for young children?

The Opportunity

In partnership with Worldreader, R4D is leading the evaluation and learning of Read to Kids (R2K), a pilot in India that seeks to promote literacy by encouraging and empowering parents and caregivers to read to (and with) their young children by giving them access to a digital library of high quality, locally relevant children’s books via an app on their mobile phones.

The evaluation and learning activities were initiated in October 2015 with a 5-month formative research phase consisting of interviews and focus groups with potential users to understand the barriers to reading with children (access to content, time for reading, literacy levels, beliefs about the value of reading to young children, etc).

Informed by the formative research phase, on-the-ground activities to drive uptake of the app and to build awareness about the importance of reading with children were implemented beginning in April 2016. Experimentation of multiple channels to engage and educate parents and caregivers took place through early 2017, with a focus on quickly identifying which outreach channels were most effective at driving frequent use of the mobile app. These channels include a media campaign and three local implementing partners (a community development organization, a network of affordable healthcare clinics, and early childhood education centers).

Our Work

R4D leads quarterly “learning checks” where all partners spend the week reviewing data, sharing experiences on the ground, and troubleshooting challenges all in an effort to create a set of action steps that will yield improved service delivery and better outcomes in the subsequent quarter. Partners value this mix of data visualizations and experiences from the field to make informed decisions about the path forward.

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