Started in 2014 by Vaasvi Goyal and Kasturi Shah, then sophomore students at Princeton University; Hello Seekho provides free audio lessons over mobile phones to supplement the education of government school students in the country.
After launching a successful pilot project , two city-based youngsters are now seeking to expand their campaign. the project is now being run in 10 slum colonies in central and West Delhi besides the largest slum colony of Asia, Dharavi in Mumbai.
Students can call a toll free number and listen to a wide variety of audio lessons that make learning fun through songs, stories and poems. When someone calls the toll-free number, they can navigate through various options to select the lesson they want to hear. All the lessons developed according to NCERT books are pre-recorded, says Vaasvi Goyal, co-founder, Hello, Seekho.
The duo says concern over the alarming rate of dropouts in the country and students from the financially weaker section, made the duo come up with the out-of-the box idea. More than 20 per cent of students in India, drop out before class 8. Most of these students are first generation learners and lack someone at home to help them with their homework and read them storybooks.
We want ‘Hello, Seekho’ to be a resource for such types of learners. Our aim is to cut across distance and socio-economic barriers and be a resource for every child who needs a support network, says Kasturi Shah.
The founders claims to have received over 40,000 phone calls since the inception in 2014. “The pilot project was launched in the slums of New Delhi in 2014. Since then, we have expanded our marketing to slums across Delhi and to Dharavi, which is Asia’s largest slum, in Mumbai. We have received over 40,000 phone calls since our launch,” says Goyal.
Comprising a team of less than ten members, the service caters to students from nursery to class 5. The maximum operational work is done over the Internet. While the founders are in the US they manage everything from there with the help of volunteers in India.
When in India, Vaasvi handles operations in Delhi, while Kasturi handles Mumbai and they say they are looking for more people to join them. The founders emphasis on devising a curriculum which is fun as well as impactful. The curriculum development panel includes teachers, consultants and authors.
“It is a critical priority for us to build curriculum that is fun, engaging and impactful. Therefore, we work with a curriculum development panel of curriculum development experts including teachers, consultants and authors. The curriculum is devised with them and have it vetted by the consultants on our panel,” says Kasturi.
It forms a platform where the child has access to what is taught in the classroom. The audio lessons have been developed in a way that helps them retain the lessons through the medium of songs and music, she says.
The initiators are eyeing to expand the curriculum and conducting a detailed impact to better their services to the children.
“We are currently raising funds to expand our reach and be available to more and more students across India. We are also expanding our curriculum and conducting a detailed impact evaluation to increase our impact in the lives of students. Our ultimate goal is to be an indispensable audio resource for every student across the country,” says Vaasvi.