A Radiophone project has been launched recently to offer better educational opportunities for children of migrants in Gurgaon. Qualcomm’s Wireless Reach initiative launched the Gali Gali Sim Sim initiative, which will combine community radio and mobile phones, to offer children up to eight years old, access to quality educational radio content through integration with a 3G platform, and an in-school program that enhances school learning material with radio broadcasts. The pilot will test both the scalability and sustainability of the platform, which could allow the initiative to be implemented in other parts of India.

Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM), through its Wireless ReachTM initiative, and Sesame Workshop India today announced the launch of the Radiophone project, a unique initiative that combines community radio with mobile phones to expand access to quality educational experiences for children, particularly children of migrant populations that reside in Gurgaon.

Migrant labor communities are among India’s most marginalized populations. For children of migrant workers, migration means being uprooted from their homes, leaving their schools, moving to different states and having problems accessing schools at their parents’ new work sites. Many of these children are unable to benefit from government or NGO-run schools. This problem of access is further compounded by language and social barriers. As a result, too many migrant children dropping out of school or attending poor quality schools that fail to address their needs. Research shows that quality education during early years plays a vital part in promoting readiness for school and is also the best guarantee of promoting sustainable economic and social development.

Galli Galli Sim Sim is a multi-platform initiative that combines the power of multimedia and educational outreach to help young children prepare for school and life. Galli Galli Sim Sim integrates a 360 degree strategy to reach children between the ages of 0 – 8, especially those that are disenfranchised and under resourced. Independent third party research commissioned by Sesame Workshop India indicates that children who are exposed to Galli Galli Sim Sim interventions demonstrate greater gains in educational and developmental outcomes than those who are not exposed.[2].

Galli Galli Sim Sim’s Radiophone project is the first initiative of its kind that seeks to bring together emerging technologies and community voices in a bid to provide access and opportunity to marginalized populations. Piloting in Gurgaon, a suburb of New Delhi, the project has three main components – the development and broadcast of high quality educational radio content relevant to and reflecting community issues, especially those of marginalized communities; enabling increased access of this content to communities through integration with the 3G platform; and an in school program that enhances the radio broadcast with in school learning materials.

The grant from Qualcomm’s Wireless Reach is helping Galli Galli Sim Sim develop and broadcast this community radio show and enable its integration with the 3G platform. This radio show format combines high quality content and community voices in way that can be localized and replicated across community radio stations. Initially, the GGSS show will be broadcast on Gurgaon Ki Awaaz Samudayik Radio Station to an estimated 30,000 listeners.

Using 3G technology this broadcast will be then made available to populations residing in radio dark areas but have mobile network coverage. Participating families (families who have children aged 4 to 8 years) will be provided with 3G-enabled mobile phones and 3G wireless connectivity. Using a preloaded shortcut on the phones the families will be able to access not just the Galli Galli Sim Sim community radio broadcast but also additional Galli Galli Sim Sim educational materials consisting of videos, songs, stories and other print materials. This will allow parents to access high quality educational and age appropriate educational content for their pre-school age children who typically lack access to schools and formal education. The families will be trained on how to use the mobile phones and research will be conducted to track impact and usage patterns.

This pilot will also study the scalability and sustainability of both the radio show format and its increased access through the mobile platform.

The third component of the project is the in school program, supported separately by HSBC. Thirty classrooms will be provided mobile phones with speakers, enabling classes to listen to the GGSS radio program. Related in-classroom print materials will allow teachers to reinforce on-air activities and an impact evaluation of the school intervention will also be conducted.

“Our GGSS initiative is a proven model for educational delivery in India,” said Sashwati Banerjee, Managing Trustee, Sesame Workshop India Trust. “With the expansion of this initiative into community radio and mobile phones, we are building an innovative and sustainable model that can be replicated to bring quality, early learning experiences to disadvantaged children throughout all of India.”

“3G wireless technologies offer new opportunities to dramatically improve learning, particularly among disadvantaged children,” said Shawn Covell, vice president for Qualcomm Government Affairs. “The Radiophone project is a shining example of how 3G mobile phones and wireless connectivity can help bridge the digital divide and promote social inclusion in India and throughout the world.”

Read the report here.