Indic language translation, wikipedia and school curriculum

Posted on Sat 10 December 2011 in Technology • 2 min read

This post is inspired by TED talk by Prof. Luis von Ahn on Massive-scale online collaboration.

If you haven’t watched the video yet, go do it. There are quite a few gems embedded in that inspiring talk. Don’t waste time reading further ;)

Just thinking out aloud… on a possibility of introducing our students to Wikipedia and getting their help in translating content.

Most of our children in State Government schools (India) are taught English as Second Language. And as part of the curriculum, translation of English to First language (native language) and viceversa is a common exercise.

Some data points -

- As per 2009 est. (wikipedia), around 31.1% (\~ 362 million) of India’s population is in age group 0-14 - As per 2009-10 DISE report (pdf, page 21), 69.71% of total students in classes I-VIII are enrolled in schools managed by the Government

Can we introduce Wikipedia or similar sources at School? Our students can try to translate it as part of their regular curriculum? With wikipedia, our younger generation will be introduced to the vast reservoir of knowledge. And with translation, we are making information available to a millions of non-english people.

Couple of hurdles I can think of. First, requirement for a computer infrastructure in government schools (infra is something we terribly lack in, check DISE report). Second, the authenticity of translation. We must ensure that the translation is correct. This problem is already being solved by Duolingo.com, by combining multiple translations for the same source, we can obtain an approximately accurate result.

On a related note, WikiBhasa is a nice tool (developed by Microsoft Research India) towards Indic language translation of Wikipedia.