Google Bolo launches in India to help children improve reading skills

Judy Cobb
March 9, 2019

Google's new Bolo app for children is now available on Android as an open beta program.

The app helps primary grade children improve their Hindi and English reading skills.

Google piloted the "Bolo" app in about 200 villages in Uttar Pradesh and the early results are very encouraging with 64 per cent of children showing an improvement in reading proficiency in just three months, Kashyap said.

The freemium Bolo app that uses Google's speech recognition and text-to-speech technology has been designed for primary grade students. It comes with a personalized reading tutor, Diya, which uses the same text-to-speech tech found in Google Assistant to hear kids' pronunciation and help them improve. The software tutor is created to encourage, explain and correct the children as they read out aloud.

According to Nitin Kashyap, Product Manager, Google India, Bolo is created to encourage and engage kids so their love for reading grows and it becomes a daily habit.

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The move comes from Google after the annual ASER 2018 report that stated that 'of all students enrolled in grade 5 in rural India, only about half of them can confidently read a grade 2 level textbook'.

Google Bolo app works on mobiles with Android 4.4 or later OS versions. Furthermore, it also includes a total of 90 stories - both in English as well as Hindi.

Google India plans to improve Bolo and extend their reach by working with four non-profit organizations- Kaivalya Education Foundation - a Piramal Initiative, Pratham Education Foundation, Room to Read, and Saajha. In addition, multiple children can use the same app and track their progress separately. Diya can speak in Hindi and English and help the children when they are trying to read in English or Hindi. In addition to this personal data, the search giant will also be collecting other anonymous information like device information, usage statistics, preferred language, reading and search history, and other settings. All the reading material on the app is completely free.

Google said via a statement that it believes in the power of technology that can help to transform teaching and learning.

Bolo does not require more than 50MB of storage space on a smartphone. Google has also stated that more stories will be added by other partners in the near future. Bolo is now available in English and Hindi, India's most popular language.

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