Learnings | September 28, 2023

Three Inspirations from India That Will Be at the Heart of Learning Crisis Solutions


Indian mother and child read on tablet

Have you ever been to a place where the air felt electric, its energy so inspiring that you can’t help but want to join in? That’s how I felt during my visit to India this summer.

Worldreader has been supporting Indian children and families through digital reading programming since 2016. And every time I visit, I’m amazed by the unwavering drive of every Indian team member, partner, educator, parent, and child to excel and make a difference in advancing their country.

A few months back, I shared three stories from the US to take action against the learning crisis. Today, I want to tell you about three inspirations from India that can help us join forces and scale efforts, and that will be at the heart of our work to solve the learning crisis.

Local leadership: Municipal Corporation of Delhi

Parents and caregivers need the support of the whole community as they champion their child’s reading. If we want families to succeed in overcoming the learning crisis, we must involve community leaders, educators, and influencers.

That’s why in 2017, in collaboration with the Society for All-Round Development (SARD), we partnered with the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) to provide educators with high-quality, locally relevant digital books and educational materials through our Read to Kids program. Since then, we’ve seen a pedagogical shift towards activity-based learning in the classroom and greater engagement and collaboration between teachers and families. The work MCD is doing in helping us bring together families, students, and teachers to help young generations meet their potential is vital. It shows that it really takes a community to get a child reading. 

On my first day in India, I was joined by MCD Additional Commissioner Shri Vikas Tripathi as well as over 400 students and educators to celebrate the progress made thus far and renew our commitment to getting more children reading. We couldn’t have found better inspiration for our work than the confidence and creativity that Delhi children and teachers show in representing their school and their commitment to the future. 

Stay tuned to hear more about the new Zonal Level Reading Program we’re launching in partnership with SARD to support reading in the West and Keshav Puram Zones of MCD.

I invite Worldreader to scale up the Digital Reading initiative to all 12 zones of Delhi. Let the children and families across Delhi enjoy the books.

Shri Vikas Tripathi, Additional Commissioner, Municipal Corporation of Delhi

Glocal content: National Book Trust

When I met National Book Trust (NBT) Director Shri Yuvraj Malik, I was tremendously impressed by his organization’s drive and focus. To put it simply, they believe that because you cannot learn to read in a language that you don’t understand, making sure that there’s enough content in languages that children need is paramount.

NBT has a Centre for Children’s Literature and a treasure trove of over 15 thousand children’s books in more than 50 Indian and international languages. I have no doubt they’ll soon be a global top player in book distribution.

Since 2021, Worldreader and NBT have been working together to promote digital reading and make sure that Indian children can access top-quality books in their language anytime, anywhere through BookSmart. We couldn’t be more proud to partner with an organization that has this type of commitment to ensuring all children have access to the reading materials they need to reach their potential. In India, where only 9.4% of households have supplemental reading materials for children, and around the world, technology offers the scalable solutions we need to guarantee equitably accessible and locally relevant content for all.

We appreciate the digital reach of Worldreader in India and other regions. Both NBT and Worldreader are mission-aligned to promote readers and develop lifelong readers.

Shri Yuvraj Malik, Director, National Book Trust
Rebecca Chandler Leege at NBT in India

Data-driven strategies: Central Institute of Educational Technology

At the headquarters of the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), the dashboards of India’s Central Institute of Educational Technology (CIET) show real-time data on the educational progress of students across the country. Dr. Amarendra P. Behera, Joint Director of CIET, explained how at any time you can see data trends related to key government schemes (from enrolment to learning and teaching scores, survey results, nutrition, and much more) from schools in all 28 Indian states and 8 Union Territories.

Data is instrumental – it inspires, coaches, and drives change. Being able to tell what’s happening in each region, how each reader is progressing and engaging with books, is key to our success against the crisis. That’s why data informs all Worldreader programs and our work with NCERT to mainstream digital reading in Indian daycares, preschools, primary schools, and households, and why we ensure our partners and readers have access to the key real-time data they need to reach their reading goals.

BookSmart has a great potential of supplementing our efforts to ensure that every child has access to good story books earlier in life and at home. This will contribute to the achievement of the NIPUN Bharat mission.

Dr. Amarendra P. Behera, Joint Director, CIET

I left India inspired to continue adapting these solutions so they can inform our work across the world, and to continue seeking the partnerships that will scale our efforts against the crisis. During my visit, I had the chance to meet the readers and teachers who are championing this generation’s future, and the opportunity to hear from the children and families whose lives have been changed by reading (you’ll read more on this soon!) 

As Sunisha Ahuja, ECCE Specialist from UNICEF told me on my last day in the country, Worldreader is “swimming upstream.” I believe it’s true, but I also believe that we are swimming in good company, and with the right gear.

Rebecca Chandler Leege is the CEO of Worldreader. Learn more about Rebecca.

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