Bollywood Songs Helping Indians to Read
But now an initiative that has been dubbed “karaoke for the poor” is transforming the lives of those who struggle to read or write.
The idea is the brainchild of Brij Kothari, a 44-year-old fellow of the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad, who realised that with the simple addition of subtitles to Bollywood’s prolific output, notionally literate Indians would instinctively read the lyrics of the songs they watched on television.By regularly watching programmes with subtitles in the language they spoke, millions of people with “weak” reading skills would effectively get reading practice.Over time, their ability would improve, enabling them to read newspapers, fill out government forms, and try for better jobs.Mr Kothari chose programmes for subtitling that are watched by 200 million people on the government-run channel, Doordarshan, which serves those who cannot afford cable television. If the songs are in Hindi, the subtitles are in Hindi. If the song is in Bengali, the subtitles are in Bengali. Each written word is highlighted as it is sung.Mr Kothari’s scheme, which is run by his voluntary group PlanetRead, recently won funding by the World Bank after showing promising early results.”I used to struggle to read words on signposts and hoardings but now it’s much easier,” she said. “I read a newsaper once a week now.””The good thing about songs is that phrases are repeated. That reinforces words for people,” said Hemaben Jadhwani, a PlanetRead field worker.
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Image Source: Meanest Indian