Technology and Mother-Tongue Literacy in Southern India

Wagner, D., Daswani, C.J., Karnati, R.
Date of publication: 
Wed, 2010-12-01

Technology and Mother-Tongue Literacy in Southern India: Impact Studies among Young Children and Out-of-School Youth

The present research began with one main question: How can new technologies
be effective for poor and illiterate children and youth in developing countries?
We addressed this question through a research-based implementation
project in India that included the development of local language multimedia
software for literacy; a built-in, user-friendly interface; and the use of existing
computer infrastructure. Two studies were undertaken in Andhra Pradesh
state. One included a sample of youth and young adults who had never gone
to school (or dropped out early) in peri-urban Hyderabad, and the other was
composed of young second- and third-grade school children in rural West
Godavari district. Based on a short-term intervention program, research results
demonstrated a modest positive impact on the learning rate in reading with
both groups of learners (when compared with control groups without the
multimedia intervention). The ªndings provide support for the view that information
and communications technologies for development can assist in promoting
literacy among the poorest of the poor. In addition, the present results
support the view that the digital divide, as it evolves over time, will only be
narrowed when content-based solutions are sensitive to, and built on cultural
and linguistic diversity.