Last summer, I met a government school teacher, Vasanthi MA B. Ed who works at a rural school in Tiruvannamalai district of Tamilnadu. Out of curiosity to know about rural India, I asked her how the school functions, what the government doles out and how the rural children took to the concept of learning, reading and schooling.
She said many rural parents were not aware of the benefits of schooling and they were not supportive to the idea of their children getting schooled. Instead they preferred their children work in the farm fields or help them to do jobs to augment their income. A few parents sent them because of the mid-day meal scheme. But there were many children who showed interest to understand, read and write especially their eyes lit up when they saw colored picture books like storybooks and color pencils. She spoke about a student in particular who was inquisitive and thirsted to know more. She would write and answer questions just by grasping what is done in the class(without any written notes that is) . She is a class 5 student who showed interest in reading news papers, story books and was always curious to know more and she tried to pick up English with the help of reading those story books.
When I saw the TEDx talks of Rohini Nilekani, This unknown child whom I heard of an year ago, flashed before me. Was wondering what if ever she gets to lay her hand on more story books. To nurture her reading habit , isn’t it necessary for her to have access to books especially story books?
I also realized how lucky i was to have had a mom and dad who inspired,motivated and encouraged me into reading books and newspapers. My Mom, a voracious reader was my inspiration to read books. I have seen her reading books and novels endlessly. My dad would take me to all the book exhibitions of IBH, Navkarnataka, book stores like Higginbothams, Gangarams, Sapna and we were also members of the City central Library and a private library closer home which had a good collection of books. Not many children could be lucky as I was. Certainly not that little girl who flashed before me.
Not just this girl, there could be many more such underprivileged children who enjoy reading and have no access to books. If only, NGO’s like Pratham could reach every child in the nook and corner of India, we could visualize an India where every child who wants to read has a book in hand. Nothing can be heartwarming than seeing a child holding a story book in hand. This could lead to a literate India.
Pratham has taken a nation wide campaign towards making a nation where every child reads and enjoys reading. They call it the” Read India movement”. They create story books, publish them , sell them and spread their reach across the length and breadth of India so that they can find a story book in the hands of a young child who wants to read. Their vision is to see “ A book in every child’s hand” and democratize the joy of reading. What's more the quality of books are good and affordable. Their mission is to ensure "Every child in school and Learning well". The NGO was founded with the belief that education is the fundamental right of every child and no child should be deprived this basic right simply because they have no access or resources to realize their dream.
For more information on their mission, vision and work listen to Rohini Nilekani on “Giving away a billion books"
She is the founder and chairperson of Pratham (www.pratham.org)
Franklin Templeton Investments partnered the TEDxGateway Mumbai in December 2012.
This post in response to " Indilblogger's Idea caravan"