Kerala govt school students’ audiobook immortalises B R Ambedkar’s life

 The book was removed and no textbook on Ambedkar has been prescribed for schools since.
Representational Image: A statue of B R Ambedkar (Photo|PTI)
Representational Image: A statue of B R Ambedkar (Photo|PTI)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:  Students of a school in Thiruvananthapuram’s Nedumangadu achieved a rare feat by bringing out an audiobook on Dr B R Ambedkar, the chief architect of the Constitution.

Actor Mammootty released the audiobook, prepared by the students of Vocational Higher Secondary School (VHSS) in Mancha to mark Constitution Day on November 26, on his Facebook page. Within days of the launch, the post received thousands of likes and hundreds of comments commending the students for their efforts.

This is the first time in India that students of a government school have released an audiobook on Ambedkar, popularly called Baba Saheb. It contains recordings of 20 chapters read by a total of 20 students, former students and teachers led by headmistress K S Reshmi. M J Resina, the deputy director of the Directorate of Public Instruction (DPI), has also lent her voice.

As per the students and teachers of the VHSS, a supplementary Malayalam textbook on Ambedkar’s life had been part of the syllabus of government schools in Kerala until the 1980s. The book was removed and no textbook on Ambedkar has been prescribed for schools since. Members of the school’s social science club ‘Friday G’ and teachers also found that their library had just one textbook on Baba Saheb, that too over four decades old. Sensing the need to inform students like them about Ambedkar’s life and contributions, the school students decided to make the audiobook.

They began on Teachers’ Day-September 5. Students and teachers of the Mancha VHSS and neighbouring schools, besides former students, read one chapter each every day for the next 20 days for the audiobook. The recordings were compiled to make the audiobook. 

“I served as the school’s headmistress from 2019 to 2021. When I heard about the programme, I decided to join. The work gains importance in our present time. I feel it was a good experience for the students,” Resina told TNIE. 

Friday G convenor P S Mahith said students made all the efforts. “Ambedkar worked for the emancipation of the downtrodden. We should take inspiration from his life,” he says in the audiobook’s prologue.
A friend of one of the teachers helped to get Mammootty on board for the audiobook’s release the book. The actor portrayed Ambedkar in Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar (2000).

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