Oct 16, 2019

Pratham and Microsoft Hack for Good


In July, more than 25,000 Microsoft employees at nearly 50 venues around the world participated in the annual company-wide hackathon, a weeklong event that utilizes Microsoft’s people and ideas as a platform for innovation.

One of the activities called “Hack for Good,” invites nonprofit organizations to work alongside Microsoft engineers to address a specific social need. This year, six participants worked with Pratham staff in Seattle and India on the development of a mobile app to simplify the evaluation of children’s reading ability as part of the Annual Status of Education (ASER) survey.

Since 2005, the household survey has provided essential data on multiple aspects of education in India, including the basic reading and arithmetic competencies of children ages 5 to 16, using a simple assessment tool administered manually and recorded using pen and paper. The team experimented with the Azure speech-to-text service and speech recognition technologies as a means to automate the process.

According to Nishant Baghel, Pratham director of technology innovation, “Pratham intends to build on the solution developed during the hackathon. The team’s solution opens the door to automating ASER assessments, which would facilitate greater involvement by community stakeholders and amplify the scale and scope of Pratham’s work.”

This is the second year Pratham has participated in the event. According to Jayant Gupchup, a principal data scientist, “It’s been great! Because of my tech and data science background, Microsoft has enabled me to help Pratham.”

The additional engineers who worked tirelessly on this project were Aditya Khant, Kshitij Gupta, Joyce Fang, Yaran Fan, and Somit Gupta.