Same Language Subtitling on TV for Mass Literacy
In the 2001 census, India's 7+ literacy was 65.4 percent, a gain of 12.9 percent from the 1991 census. However, the literacy skills of at least half of these so-called literates are abysmally low. Over 160 million rural and urban poor with early literacy skills already have access to TV, and this access is growing rapidly.
To raise the literacy skills of all early literates on a large scale, through a low-cost, already entrenched, popular entertainment method-television programming with subtitles.
The explicit use of television to impart literacy skill practice through songs is unprecedented in India, and it has relevance wherever music videos are shown on TV and literacy skills are low. The idea builds on people's existing knowledge of lyrics, enabling early literates to anticipate the subtitles and read along; the inherent repetition in songs makes them an ideal vehicle for practice. The use of subtitling is a simple approach that leverages popular culture to encourage the sizeable population of India to read. It also helps the deaf and hard-of-hearing by making television programming more accessible. The possibility of replicating this inexpensive approach in India with different languages and in other countries, including the developed world, is enormous.