Dost Education

About the Project

This project is one of the 2019 WISE Awards finalists. 

Dost (‘Friend’) is a mobile platform that enables parents of any literacy level to improve their child’s early development and school readiness. Dost Education empowers aspiring middle-income parents in India to improve their child’s early development and school success. Through widely available mobile technology, Dost, which means “friend” in Hindi, delivers local language curriculum and a communication platform to arm parents with the knowledge and resources they crave. Dost was funded by Y Combinator, the Chintu Gudiya Foundation, and the Mulago Foundation to start this work.

Context and Issue

90% of brain development occurs before age 6, but many parents lack access to information or tools to tackle these critical early years. Dost Education’s mission is to empower parents of any literacy level to take charge of their child’s early development and lifelong learning. By putting parents at the center of early childhood development, Dost’s vision is to unlock every child’s full potential – regardless of their family’s wealth or literacy level. Dost builds software, audio content, and toolkits for schools to promote parent engagement and holistic child development.

Solution and Impact

Through an automated voice call service and community-based workshops, our local language curriculum reaches parents literally where they are. The “phonecasts” (podcasts delivered through a phone call) solve everyday parent problems and nudge them to turn regular moments into learning moments. Current content is for parents with kids aged 2-8 and covers cognitive development, socio-emotional skills, and school preparedness.

Future Developments

Since our beta launch in 2017 with 300 users, we have grown to 30,000 families through a network of Dost Champions and strategic partnerships with preschools. By 2021, we will scale our “phonecast” product to 1 million families, work with researchers to refine the model for deeper impact, and innovate on new, rich-media prototypes for low-income families who are increasingly gaining smartphone access. After 2021, we anticipate working closely with state governments to integrate the most cost-effective components of Dost into the public preschool system.

May 23, 2019 (last update 03-14-2022)