Literacy for all children worldwide is about to become one step closer to reality. In support of the Global Book Alliance, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Government of Norway through the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), and Google are joining forces to improve child literacy by making high-quality early grade reading resources available digitally, along with targeted reading support.
The two-year partnership pairs Google’s free Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered, speech-based, offline literacy application – Bolo – with the Global Digital Library (GDL), a flagship initiative of the GBA, which offers high-quality, openly licensed materials.
Google will partner with the GBA and the GDL to increase the number of books and languages available for use within Bolo. By incorporating high-quality books from the GDL, Google will enhance these reading resources through Bolo’s AI-powered reading support. This combination of open source content from the GDL with Google’s speech recognition and text-to-speech technology will provide more children with the opportunity to learn to read in a language they use and understand.
The Bolo app is a personalized tutor that encourages children to read aloud while providing positive reinforcement when a child reads correctly and support when a child does not. Bolo can even work offline and is ad-free so children can focus on reading. It helps children read on their own, choosing from a large variety of engaging stories on the GDL, play interesting word games, and earn in-app awards, so learning to read becomes both fun and habitual. Multiple children can use the same app and track their progress separately. In time, the difficulty level of recommended stories adjusts to each child’s reading skills.
The GDL will collaborate with the Bolo app to increase access for children struggling to read by themselves. The GDL provides an open-source library for schools and school systems, donor agencies and their partners, publishers, digital distributors and content providers, parents and children, it offers access to thousands of high-quality titles which can be read online, on mobile phones, or in print. By the end of 2020, the GDL will house reading resources in over 100 languages sourced directly from a network of international education partners.
Another incredible component of the GDL is that an individual can translate an existing book into a new language in as little as an hour. Users can adapt books that are available on the library through translation and localization into one of 300 languages supported by the platform. The GDL is also working towards reaching underserved languages.
In the ultimate win-win, the partnership with Google, USAID, and Norad extends the reach of the Bolo app, the GDL, the GBA, and the potential for countless children to learn in an effective, efficient, and fun way. Because of the power of partnership, literacy for all is now one step closer.