Yes, the entire country.

Surely, you think, that’s a bombastic claim. There are nearly 1.3 billion people in this country, 50% of them below the age of 25 years. That’s 650 million. Even if we assume 60% of them don’t need any help & are either already comfortable with the language OR will have access to good quality English education, that still leaves over 250 million potential students who will need to be trained to make India a completely ‘English-able’ country.

We think we can do it.

Yes, you read that right. We believe we can train 250 million kids in English language & make them proficient in it that they can then take on the world on equal terms. The class barrier that this silly lack-of-English perpetuates, would be done away forever & an entire generation of Indians could then read whatever they want, consume information from the Internet not just restricting to pictures, acquire education in any field they aspire to & move confidently with the world, shoulder-to-shoulder.

It does seem like a loud claim. But we have legs to back it. Over the last decade, we’ve been working on a model that would make the delivery of English language so simple that even a 12th pass farmer from any village in India would be able to teach it to students. And over these past few months, we have exactly done that.

Our decade-long exposure to ground realities in rural India has taught us that it’s not easy to learn English in a conventional manner for a kid:

  1. With limited exposure to an English speaking environment
  2. Without a peer group that converses in English
  3. Without an expert tutor who can teach in a structured manner and
  4. Without technology that allows for self-learning

So we had to think of something different.

It’s not been easy. Nothing this big could be. And don’t get me wrong, there’s still a long way to go. But we have the elements of a truly scalable, transformational model in place.

What are these elements? Here goes…

1. Teaching English Using The Student’s Native Language

Our solution can be delivered in any local language by a person who need not know how to speak English.

The TEACHER is central to our ambition of achieving an English Literate end-state. But the best part is the teacher need not be an expert in English to teach English, she can teach in her own regional language. They are trained to take our students from English illiteracy to a stage where they can Read, Write, Comprehend & Structure grammatically correct sentences over a period of 2 years.

We have trained around 700 teachers across Maharashtra. These teachers include a mix of existing school teachers, Anganwadi sevikas, farmers & others who’ve never taught anything in their lives, let alone English.

2. Rule Based Teaching Methodology

The core of our solution is a set of rules that allows translation from English into any Indian regional language and vice versa. The idea has been to convert the delivery of language skills to something akin to Maths, formula based and modular.

Watch this video to understand the algorithm.

Limited testing has shown translation results to be grammatically better than the Google translate. We believe the same set of rules can be applied to all languages & we are in the process of converting our content into other languages.

3. Low Cost To End User

In the past 5 years, Affordable Private English medium schools have grown almost 3 times with 80,000 students in Maharashtra existing free government schools.

What drives a parent to shift his kid to an English Medium school? The quick-fix solution that English is the only way out which will close the skills gap, offer employment opportunities is one of the major reasons for the shift.

But this so called Mantra for success is depriving many children of a real education. Increasing number of urban working-class and lower-middle-class parents are investing hard earned money in private English Medium schools, often of uncertain quality.

Mountains of evidence show that children learn more if they’re taught in their mother tongue. Then, is it justified to lose out on your core skills for the pursuit of English ?

So, why not continue studying in a government school and bridge the gap of English in the most economical manner.

Yes, we have the most economical classroom learning solution to offer. The average cost to a consumer in an affordable private school is approximately Rs 12000 per year which is almost 8 times of our cost.

Our classroom learning solution on a per hour learning basis costs Rs.4 per day. (~Rs 1500 per yr: 75% tuition fee for the teacher  + 25% material cost). With one hour of investment and Rs 4 on a daily basis, by the end of 24 months the child becomes communication worthy and is able to read, comprehend English sentences.

Watch the transformation in Pravin Pawara after undergoing the Elementary Comprehension Level of the English Literacy program. He spent an hour a day over less than 2 months during our vacation batches in May-June this year in our test bed of Shirpur.

Is there a possibility for the cost to come down further?

Yes. If the teachers are provided with the necessary content, training, supporting material to make kids English literate as part of their regular teaching, 75% investment on tuition fees can be completely eliminated bringing the cost down to Rs. 1 per day. In this case,  the course is taught as part of the regular teaching in the school, unlike the Teacher Entrepreneur Model.

As we scale up, technology will become critical, if a self-learning mechanism is imbibed, there are chances for the cost to come down further.

4. Making Teachers Self-Sufficient

Educated Unemployed youth can now become Teacher Entrepreneurs. Yes, we are changing the paradigm, where only skilled teachers can teach! We have developed a model where we assist our teachers in setting-up English learning centers to teach kids. These teachers can earn about Rs. 3,500 – 4,000 on an average per month with about 3 hours of teaching everyday.

This definitely acts as a motivation for many more youngsters to join the league and be a part of the change. It not only provides a training ground for students but a means of income for the teacher.

We have instances, where people have made more money in 2 months of summer vacations than most people in those parts of the country make in an year.

Watch the transformational journey of Dilwarsing Pawara, a Farmer by profession who began with teaching 25 kids in 2013 and currently has reached out to over 200 students.

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5. Continuous Monitoring & Feedback

Our proprietary Assessment Framework allows effective measurement of individual student learning and recommendation of appropriate corrective teaching actions. Assessment as a mechanism for feedback to the teacher, student & their parents, has been of immense value. This helps us to measure the impact of our programs on our target audiences.

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Now that we have these elements in place, we are keen to step on the accelerator & move forward to create the future we’ve envisaged for the kids of this country. We’ve already trained over 700 teachers in the last few years, and aspire to train over 100,000 teachers in the next few years to achieve an English Literate state.

If you want to know more about our work follow our Facebook page or write into us at ameya.a@leapforword.org.

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