According to READAlliance, many primary school-age children in India have low literacy rates. In one survey of children ages 5-16 in rural India, nearly half couldn’t form words from individual letters. In another survey of fifth grade children, two-thirds were unable to identify the main theme of a passage they read.

To help address this, we recently partnered with READAlliance, USAID, the Centre for Knowledge Societies (CKS) and 10,000 Startups India to pilot the Chrome App Developer Challenge for Education. Run by the Google India Developer Relations team, the program encouraged developers to build Chrome apps for India’s primary school children with the goal of improving their reading skills and getting on a path of lifelong learning.

On July 5, thirty top developer teams came together at our Bangalore office and remotely via Google Hangouts to kick off the eight-week challenge. The developers, selected from hundreds of applicants based on their success in past hackathons, worked with mentors over the course of eight weeks to build and publish their apps. Content providers including Pratham Books and the educational cartoon series Chotta Bheem contributed relevant open-source content for the apps.
These 30 apps are now available for free on the Chrome Web Store. They represent a variety of fun learning experiences including interactive stories, reading comprehension quizzes, timed word-matching games, and a racing app that involves building complex words from alphabet tiles.

We announced the three winning apps — selected by educators based on the quality of their content as well as technical merits — on October 28. We’ll also feature them on the Chrome Web Store for three months in the hopes that even more teachers, parents and students will be able to access them. USAID and CKS plan to extend the reach of the apps by introducing them to schools for lower income children in India this year.

Visit the +Google for Education page on Monday November 3rd at 10:00 am GMT (or 3:30 pm India Time) to join the live Hangout on Air featuring the three winning apps. Education expert and TED Prize winner Dr. Sugata Mitra, will be joining the Hangout. Known for the seminal “Hole in the Wall” learning experiments, Dr. Mitra won the 2013 TED Prize to build a new kind of School in the Cloud where children can explore on their own and learn from one another using online resources. 

Congratulations and thanks to all who participated in the pilot challenge, and we hope to see the rest of you on Monday’s hangout.