English is indisputably the business language of South East Asia, according to Chamberlain’s research. Out of 7,000 people surveyed, 84% indicated a desire to learn the language, and 97% of parents wanted their children to learn it. It is also true that most of Bangladesh’s population lives on less than 2 dollars a day. Enters BBC Janala, the project harnessing the power of mobile phones in Bangladesh to bring effective and affordable language learning to the hands of students who desire it most. Each 2-3 minute English lesson offered through the service costs about the same as a cup of tea, a few pennies. Three million calls in the first 15 months clearly demonstrated the need for this type of learning.
Chamberlain is the recipient of the 2010 Microsoft Tech Award in the education category and speaks with Center for Social Innovation correspondant Sheela Sethuraman.
She and her team of managers and producers conducted massive research to properly contextualize and localize content. Their focus is now to take BBC Janala to the next level by turning it into a “financially self-sustaining, economically viable social enterprise.”