Mukhtar Ahmad

Internee at CSaLT

I am an Internee at Center for Speech and Language Technologies (C-Salt), Information Technology University, Punjab, Pakistan.

I am currently working on ‘Baangh’ Project, as a translator and transcriptionist. I have also worked on ‘Polly’ Project as well. In addition to this, I have also worked as ‘Service Moderator’ for project named ‘Hello Rozgar’. I also did survey to measure outcomes and job rate for the free courses offered by Punjab Skills Development Fund (PSDF).
With: Agha Ali Raza, Bilal Saleem
Baang is a voice-based, telephone-based forum for low-literate users.

Users can post voice messages (baangs) of their own as well as listen to baangs posted by others; vote these up or down; mark posts as being inappropriate and post voice comments on them. Baangs can be browsed by popularity, recency or a mixture of the two (i.e. trending posts).

Within three months of its launch Baang has accumulated more than 8,000 posts contributed by 900 users that have been played more than 393,000 times by 1,500 users. Among the most popular baangs are songs, religious poetry (naat, hamd etc.), quranic recitation, jokes, famous quotes and users hosting programs as DJs. People generally tend to vote down and report abusive content and enthusiastically compete for votes. Baang also found a lot of uptake among blind users. Content posted on baang is regularly monitored by moderators to prevent abuse and misuse.

Polly Quiz
With: Agha Ali Raza, Zain Tariq
Polly is a voice-based, telephone-based service that engages low-literate and non-tech savvy users in light entertainment and spreads useful development-related information to them as they become more comfortable with the voice interface. Polly allows users to record a short-message their voice, to modify it using a choice of funny voice modifications and to optionally send the original or modified version of the message to their friends. Consequently its use spreads virally among the target population and results in spreading development-related information to low-literate masses. The simple entertainment acts as a soft incentive for users to train themselves and overcomes the scalability hurdle of explicit user training and motivation. It also allows Polly to organically spread among the population through word of mouth as well as scheduled message deliveries from one user to another.

Hello Rozgaar
With: Agha Ali Raza
Hello-Rozgar is a telephone-based portal for access to employment and skill-training opportunities.

In 2015, Polly was relauched in Pakistan and with a new service: Hello-Rozgar. Employers, employees, trainers and trainees can register with Hello-Rozgar through its web or IVR interface. Registered users can post audio job ads; advertise skill training opportunities; listen and apply for job openings and vocational training vacancies.

The project’s aim was to benefit people from under-served portions of the society (women, minorities, low-literate and/or belonging to geographically remote areas), by disseminating information to them about skill-training and employment opportunities; and to further benefit a subset of them via financial incentives in the form of vouchers for appropriate skill training programs.

Users interact with Hello Rozgar via missed calls i.e. they flash the phone number of Hello Rozgar and within a few minutes Hello Rozgar calls them back (hence subsidizing their air time cost). During the interaction it allows users to register themselves as either someone who is looking for a job (a potential employee), or as a person who wants to advertise job openings (a potential employer), or as a person looking for skill training opportunities (trainee). Users register with basic details like name, national ID card number, father’s name, gender, age, profession/skills of interest, district and tehsil. Once registered, Hello Rozgar matches potential employers and employees based on profession and location. It then allows potential employees to apply against job vacancies. The details and of these applicants are then provided to the potential employers who can now contact them directly. In case of skill training opportunities, Hello Rozgar maintains a list of vocational training institutes run by TEVTA and PVTC throughout Pakistan and provides contact details of the relevant and closest training institutes to the users interested in skill training.

Over the last few months Hello-Rozgar has been called 63,000 times by more than 49,000 users. Currently, there are 2,600 registered employees, 407 registered trainees and 180 registered employers. Polly and Hello Rozgar are both currently live in Pakistan.

Survey conducted for Punjab Skills Development Fund (PSDF)
With: Agha Ali Raza
(+92) 333 143 9407