South Africa’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), a world-class African research and development organization that undertakes directed, multidisciplinary research and technological innovation that contributes to the improved quality of life of South Africans has developed an application to help children with their reading, and listening skills and make studying fun.
Dubbed iSinkwe, an isiZulu word for a bush baby, the App adds and synchronizes human-narrated or computer-generated audio to text. The App functions by adding audio, which can be manually recorded or electronically generated from a standard Electronic Publication Version Three (EPUB3) document, and text documents.
iSinkwe synchronizes the audio and the text automatically at word, sentence, and paragraph levels, allowing users to switch between the levels when they read or navigate through the document using audio and highlighting.
Georg Schlünz, Product Development Manager at CSIR explained how the App works, “If users have a Microsoft .docx or PDF document, they can convert those documents automatically to the standard EPUB3 format using iSinkwe Convert. They simply upload the document to the iSinkwe website, and it will provide them with an EPUB3 version that they can download.”
With support from the Western Cape education department, the startup piloted iSinkwe to assist teachers and pupils at Jan Krielskool, Langerug Skool, and Tafelberg School.
Although the app doesn’t support the translation of content from one language into another, it adds audio to documents that are already written in the language of the user’s choice. The App currently supports the 11 official languages spoken in South Africa. It allows for a combination of both human-narrated and computer-generated audio.
The App is available for download on the Google Play store as well as licensing to resellers, who will, in turn, sell the program to customers such as schools and publishers.
The launch of iSinkwe will strengthen the South African government’s effort to achieve mass literacy among the citizens, the government has launched the Kha Ri Gude Mass Literacy Campaign in 2008, to enable millions of its adult citizens above the age of 15 years to become literate and numerate in one of the eleven official languages. Moreover, this will help the nation achieve its SDG 4 goal which seeks to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.