To mark World Literacy Day on September 8, Bangaloreans participated in rallies in various parts of the city.
While some joined hands with NGOs, others organised events on their own.
In Rajajinagar, Back-a-thon organised by Make A Difference (MAD), an NGO. A group of about 120 Bangaloreans walked backwards to create awareness about the need for literacy. The backward walk signified an intent to push back deteriorating social values; which in this case are the levels of illiteracy plaguing the country.
“As per latest government statistics, for every three children in a shelter home who manage to study upto class 12, there are 97 dropouts,” said a representative of the NGO.
Another set of Bangaloreans, most of them students, gathered on Saturday and Sunday to read stories to under-privileged children. The initiative called ‘One day, one story’ is a part of Pratham Books’ India-wide Champions programme and saw more than 250 volunteers participating.
The book chosen for this year was Paplu, the Giant, written by Ramendra Kumar and illustrated by Zainab Tambawalla. The book, available in English, Hindi, Marathi, Telugu and Kannada is a delightful story about a little giant who doesn’t like to fight with anyone.
The sessions were conducted in 20 of the 22 official Indian languages around the country. Some Champions sessions were even conducted in dialects like Nagamese, Mizo and in foreign languages like Portuguese, Tibetan and Chinese. “Nine sessions were conducted in Arunachal Pradesh and nine districts of Manipur. A small NGO working in tribal areas conducted three sessions in one village under Mamit district which is one of the most backward districts of Mizoram. An NGO working with mentally and physically challenged children had such a huge success with the storytelling sessions that similar centres from across the city asked the kind-hearted giant ‘Paplu’ visit them too. Teach for Nepal Fellows also read stories in their classrooms. Indian Development Foundation showed huge support by coordinating 110 storytelling sessions with the different organisations they work with - from Jaipur to Secunderabad, from Patna to Manali, from Leh to Bellary” says Purvi Shah, from the organisation. In Bangalore, theatre artiste Vikram Sridhar enthralled the children with his act and interactive storytelling method.
Suzanne Singh, managing trustee of Pratham Books Champions, said, “Our mission is to see a book in every child’s hand. What has left us speechless is the commitment of so many people to come forward to conduct the sessions and work their magic with children. If we can all make reading to children a part of our regular routine, we are not far away from the dream of a Reading India.”
Themed ‘Dream big to invent your future and encourage reading’, Target India has organised a month-long initiative to encourage reading among children with their partner NGOs. One of the efforts undertaken this year is a ‘Learning while Listening’, a unique initiative to help visually impaired children inculcate the love of reading. Team members volunteered to record short stories using animated voiceovers and sound effects for stories like ‘The Monsoon concert’, ‘Kallu’s world’, ‘In big trouble again’ and ‘Hurry up ma!’ among others. The best audio stories were shortlisted and given to the children at Mathru School for the Blind. A book donation drive was also conducted to help address the education requirements of the NGOs. They donated over 5,000 English and Kannada books where each team member wrote special messages on the bookmarks inserted. The purpose of the initiative was to encourage children to continue studying and reading despite the difficulties they may face.
Speaking on the occasion, Andi Marston, director of human resources, Target, said, “The education of children is important and the focus of many of our community relation efforts. We feel that all children should have access to good quality books. I look forward to a future where no child is denied the pleasure of reading good books.”