India is considered to be one of the key emerging markets in the world. While the rest of the world has concerns about an aging population, the Indian Census Bureau reports that 40 percent of the populace in India is below the age of 18, and by 2015, 55 percent will be under 20. In order to convert this opportunity into a strength, education of young Indians has become an imperative - beginning with pre-school age education.
Unfortunately, even though 96 percent of India's children enroll in primary school, by the age of 10 about 40 percent have dropped out. One of the worst affected sections of the Indian population are the children of migrant construction workers who travel long distances from poorer parts of India into the fast developing cities in search of work. This migration has a profound impact on the children of these workers, bringing them into strange cities with little hope for education, learning or life skills. Many end up wasting their childhood in the shadow of the very buildings their parents are working on. Some are pulled into child labor while others become street vagrants. And for those fortunate enough to have the opportunity to attend nearby schools, there are often integration issues that result in intermittent attendance.
To address this need, Qualcomm’s Wireless Reach initiative has recently announced a project called Radiophone. This project is working with the migrant community in Gurgaon – a typical, expanding city in the outskirts of Delhi, India. In partnership with Sesame Workshop India and their Galli Galli Sim Sim initiative, Wireless Reach is working to bring content on health, education and life skills to a mobile phone. The rapid penetration of the mobile phone into the societal fabric of India enables access and usage of this content by the migrant families.
The pilot project initially covers 10 specific families who will be able to easily access the content using a pre-loaded shortcut on the phones that allows parents to access educational content for their pre-school age children. The project will also assist in training parents and conduct before and after studies to assess the project’s impact on the participants and if the model could be scaled up to reach more and more people, turning this small pilot into a broader and sustainable platform.
- Ashish Aggarwal is senior manager for Qualcomm Government Affairs and responsible for the implementation of the Wireless Reach Radiophone project.
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