The early years are known to be the most important stage of development of the human brain. According to a Harvard study, the human brain is the most flexible and adaptable in the early years of one’s life and becomes less capable of reorganizing and adapting to new things as it matures. Evidence of this is in a 20-year study of children in Jamaica by Nobel laureate James Heckman, Paul Gertler and others which showed that early stimulation interventions for infants and toddlers increased their future earnings by 25%.
But the ASER 2019 study points out that 25% of school children in the 4-8 age group in India do not have age-appropriate cognitive and numeracy skills and only about 37% of children below 6 years of age are able to recognize letters. Early childhood education has not yet received much attention from stakeholders in India.
While the National Educational Policy 2020 places emphasis on early learning and is considering making Pre-K a part of the school structure. Given the time lag between policy announcement to execution and suspect quality of in-school learning in schools, there is a need for a high-quality after-school solution to fill the gap.
None of the apps in India have yet focused meaningfully on this target segment. YouTube which is a popular source of content for young children is more entertainment (not learning), non-contextual for India (international characters) and non-interactive (one-way content). Hence, an EdTech solution that provides access to quality foundational learning, numeracy and literacy with a focus on learning outcomes is the need of the hour.
Kutuki is looking to bridge this gap through its early learning solution focusing on pre-school students. Started in 2018, it offers a learning app that includes animated and interactive content focused on language, numeracy, life skills, STEM, and general knowledge. The company is contextualizing the product for India / Bharat. Given the age group, it is important to make the learning process fun and entertaining for the students. Kutuki’s content is created using Indian characters like Kutu (Boy), Ki (Girl), Minku (an elephant) who generate an instant pull with children. The content on the app is currently in English and being translated into multiple regional languages including Hindi, Marathi, Tamil and Kannada. This is essential as children learn better in their mother tongue in the early years.
According to the World Bank, ‘Investing in the early years is one of the smartest things a country can do to eliminate extreme poverty, boost shared prosperity, and create the human capital needed for economies to diversify and grow.’
At Omidyar Network India, we are excited to back Kutuki’s founders Bharath Bevinahally and Sneha Sundaram in their goal to democratize access to quality early learning for the Next Half Billion, through an offering that is affordable for all income segments and can be used across geographies, including smaller towns and cities where customers have few, if any, quality offline options. Through a scalable online offering, Kutuki aims to reach millions of young learners over the coming years.