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What is Dost Education?
Dost is an EdTech nonprofit working in Early Childhood Education in India. We help parents of any literacy level to boost their child’s early learning and development at home. Through 1-minute podcasts delivered via phone calls four times a week (“phonecasts”), Dost solves everyday parent problems and nudges parents 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.
Low-income parents are motivated to give their children the best education, but struggle to do so, particularly during the early years. Their children enter primary school behind and never have a chance to catch up. The scale of the problem is enormous, especially in India, where there are 150 million illiterate women and by 5th grade, only half of children can read at a 2nd grade level.
How we are solving this problem
From neuroscientists and economists, experts agree on a high ROI method to address this cycle of illiteracy: promote early learning experiences at home. Accomplishing this task requires innovation: the millions of kids who need better early learning experiences live in low-income, low literacy homes.
Our users are typically mothers who have attained a high school education or less and have household earnings of $1-10 a day.
Since our beta launch in 2017 with 300 users, we have now grown to 54,000+ users through a network of Dost Champions and strategic partnerships. 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.
Our COVID-19 response
After speaking with 200+, we know low income families are worried and anxious about their income, health, and abuse within the family. The increased levels of stress are affecting not only parents but also young children. It is estimated that more than 300 million learners in India are out of "school” right now.
It is important for families to have methods to deal with the stress, resources to reach out to and ways to take care of their children so there is no lasting negative effect of the crisis on themselves and the younger generation. Researchers from Harvard also highlight the importance of addressing stress and building resilience in families as a crucial component of fighting the pandemic.
Additional to our early learning content, we’ve built the following resource to help families build resilience and create a safe environment at home:
A 6-week-long COVID module addressing stress, physical and mental health for both adults and young children, and recommending positive behavior management techniques to adopt health routines at home.
YCombinator, Mulago Foundation, Chintu Gudiya Foundation, Gina Sanders/Gina's Collective, Fast Forward
Sneha Sheth (Founder, CEO) - Sneha started Dost while completing her MBA at UC Berkeley. She has experience designing programs for women’s empowerment, financial inclusion and education across the world, including Mumbai, Cairo and Nairobi. In previous roles at Dalberg and Oliver Wyman, she advised clients like Goldman Sachs, the Gates Foundation, Teach For India, and UN Women. She’s currently a Mulago Rainer Arnhold Fellow and Gratitude Network Awardee.
Sindhuja Jeyabal (Co-founder, CTO)- Sindhuja has expertise in data mining, web-service design, and mobile application development. Sindhuja received a Master in Information Management and Systems from UC Berkeley, where she specialized in technology for international development and began building Dost. She has also built and won awards for developing tools for privacy and social finance. She holds a Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Science from BITS Pilani (India).