Bellevue technology solutions company Terawe is striving to make education accessible by promoting literacy in all corners of the globe. Its software is designed for consumers to easily make and share e-books that can be used to teach basic literacy skills like reading, writing, and numeracy.
With Terawe’s Literacy For Life program and a partnership with Microsoft’s, Chekhov software was created so students and educators in remote regions can use tablets to access e-books from anywhere. Internet access is only needed when uploading or downloading to and from the cloud.
“The challenge was, ‘How do we help improve the levels of literacy in developing communities through software and technology?'” said Terawe CEO Anil Balakrishnan. “We wanted to be helping communities around the world to learn how to read and learn how to write, but without complicating things. A main theme was keep it simple and easy to use. We wanted it to be easy for a first grader to use it independently.”
Through the Literacy For Life program, teachers can download e-books created by other educators, or they can write and record their own using the Chekhov Story Author tool. The e-books can be written and recorded in a variety of languages and dialects, making them accessible to a wide range of students from various countries and regions.
With Chekhov’s audio feature, students also can listen to the e-books, allowing them to associate the letters and words they’re reading with the sounds that they hear.
By pairing written words with audio, Terawe aims to helps students learn to read and write on their own without the need of a literate adult present, thanks to this new technology.
“We are interested in creating innovative solutions that are related to industry verticals such as education or healthcare,” said Balakrishnan. “My passion is about creating software solutions that can truly be helpful to the end user, whether it’s directly or indirectly.”
To spread literacy in regions that are underserved, Terawe starts by working with pilot communities in small villages — groups of 100 to 300 learners — then expands to schools in larger communities. The goal is to engage with local governments and organizations – such as world ministry groups like World Vision and UNESCO – that already are in place in each country or region, and encourage them to make Literacy For Life a part of their core initiatives.
Each pilot program takes place over several years, and several pilot programs already are in progress, including ones in Zambia, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Mexico.