Jiju and Priya Thomas’ project Smart Kindergarten makes educational software for pre-schoolers

Ramesh Kumar, a software engineer posted in the United States, is going through his email when he sees one from his son’s teacher. He opens it and smiles; it contains a photograph of an art work done by his son, Vivek who is in Thrissur. Meanwhile, Leena M., a nursery school teacher is working on a kindergarten software installed in her classroom. She is scheduling the day’s songs, stories and other interactive activities for her students.

These and more of such scenarios are what city-based Learnware Solutions, a company spearheaded by Jiju Thomas and his wife, Priya, is working on. The company, which is one of the pioneers in bringing out educational CDs and DVDs, has launched Learnware Smart Kindergarten. Via this software, pre-schoolers are introduced to alphabets, numbers and the like.

The product, says the couple, is an end result of years of thorough research and development. “We first tested it on our children, Shaun and Shine. We went ahead with the project only after they liked it, especially Shine who is one and a half years old. Apart from it being educational, we have also tried to ensure that it is entertaining for children by mixing learning with play. We are in talk with a couple of schools and hope to have them implemented soon,” says Priya.

For parents who want to be involved in their child’s studies, Learnware Solutions offers Learnware Online Smart Kindergarten. “This web based kindergarten portal is meant to be used at home by parents, and by teachers at schools. The teacher plays the role of a facilitator as he/she involves the parents in the child’s learning progress,” says Jiju.

As mobile apps are gradually becoming the ‘in’ thing, the company has introduced Smart Kindergarten, an android mobile app for pre-schoolers. “We hosted a couple of apps on nursery rhymes on Google Play and the free app has crossed a few lakhs of downloads. We also introduced paid apps and have received customers from more than 20 countries. In fact, if you key in nursery rhymes on Google Play, you will see Learnware in the top ranking app list,” says Jiju.

The seed for starting alternative educational mediums for children germinated from their children, says the couple. It started when Shaun, who is now 10, was a toddler. “While searching for good nursery rhyme CDs for him, we realised that there were only a handful and that most of them had poor finish in terms of pronunciation, images, music… As both of us were running an educational software company, we decided to create some rhymes with computer generated graphics for him. He liked it and so did a couple of our friends with young kids. That is when we decided to market the CD under the brand Butterflies in 2005,” says Priya.

The market was ripe for such a product then, they say and they soon started expanding their field. From CDs containing lessons in English, Hindi and Malayalam, they soon brought out educational CDs for CBSE students, CDs on soft skills and also the English language. “Due to our insistence on perfection, we have won several awards for quality educational products from the Department of Education, Government of Kerala and MHRD, Government of India for innovative approach in content creation and presentation,” says Jiju.

They have however slowly moved out from that field though. “The age of educational CDs and DVDs is dying. Mobile phones, tablets and the like are the ‘in’ things now as it is something every child has. It is considered a ‘baby sitter’ by many a parent. And to ensure children pick up good things from the ‘baby sitter’, educational apps are becoming popular. I think ours is one of the first companies from Kerala to enter the field. We hope to introduce more educational apps for young children soon,” says Jiju, signing off.