Google Launches Educational App Bolo To Promote Children’s Literacy In India

Harin - Mar 08, 2019

Google Launches Educational App Bolo To Promote Children’s Literacy In India

On March 7, Google launched a new language-learning app aimed at children, called Bolo which aims to improve their reading efficiency.

Yesterday, Google launched Bolo, a language-learning app for children, expanding its collection of apps for the Indian market. The app whose targets are students at elementary school uses technology like Google’s text-to-speech and speech recognition to assist kids in learning to read in both English and Hindi.

Screen Shot 2019 03 06 At 10 31 50 Am

Bolo currently offers 40 stories in English and 50 stories in Hindi. The company says that it wants to collaborate with other organizations to expand and diversify the story selection.

A reading buddy called Diya is included in the app. The role of Diya is to encourage and correct children when they read out loud by giving feedback. Diya is also capable of reading the text to children and explaining the meaning of each English word. As children continue using the app, there are word games which they can play to win in-app badges and rewards.

Bolo works offline, which is necessary as internet access in India isn’t always available. The app also supports multiple users with adjustment for each kid’s reading level.


According to Google, it had been testing out Bolo in 200 villages in Uttar Pradesh, with the assist of ASER Centre, a nonprofit organization. During the trial, among children who used Bolo, 64% of them displayed a reading proficiency improvement in three months.

In this test, 920 children were provided with the app and 600 without the app.

Besides reading proficiency, 39% of students with the app managed to get the highest level for the reading assessment of ASER compared to 28% of those without it.


Illiteracy is a major problem in India. The country accounts for the largest illiterate populations across the world. A year years ago, a study from ASER Centre pointed out that only 74% of Indian citizens can read. In 2014, more than 50% of fifth-grade students in rural state schools were not able to read textbooks for second graders. By 2018, nothing had changed much.

While this project of Google highlights its philanthropic efforts, it also benefits the company as India continues to grow as one of the world’s largest internet markets.

Google has already had a collection of apps designed for Indian internet users such as data-friendly versions of Search, YouTube, Google Pay, and many more.

Bolo is currently being launched as an open beta, while Google continues to work with nonprofit partners which include Kaivalya Education Foundation, Saajha, Room to Read, and Pratham Education Foundation, to spread the use of the app.

Bolo is now available on the Indian Google Play Store and compatible with Android smartphones having Android 4.4 (Kit Kat) or higher.


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