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Friday, 14 June 2013

Pratham Books Champions : Chirag School

For International Literacy Day (8th September), we had a dream - we wished that 100 people would volunteer to conduct storytelling sessions across the country. We ended up finding more than 250 champions to conduct storytelling sessions across the country. We will be sharing the stories of all our champions through our blog.

Tanvi Negi from Chirag sent us this story. The Chirag School was set up in 2006 to demonstrate that quality education for rural children can be provided at an affordable cost. The school envisions itself as a model on which educational endeavours in the region can be based. The structure of the day and approach to learning are child-centric. The developmental needs of a child are important criteria for planning the curriculum that focuses on health, play, art, rhythm, rhyme, movement, active participation in the group activities, home life, nature, festivals and music. Whilst it is a Hindi medium school, there is emphasis on teaching children Kumauni and English.
There are few sights more encouraging to the heart of an educationist than that of a child thoroughly enchanted by a book. When we first heard about Pratham Books Champs we absolutely adored the idea. What better way to celebrate ‘World Literacy Day’ than by reading books along with thousands of children across the country we thought. Chirag School, located in village Simayal in Nainital district- Uttarakhand, has a well stocked library where the books are carefully handpicked to entertain and educate. The school’s pedagogy revolves around narratives as we try and instill curiosity about the world in the children through stories and pictures. Our enthusiasm about PB Champs was dampened, however, when we realized that 8th September coincided with the second Saturday of the month, which is a designated holiday for the children. Nobody likes a revoked holiday, none more so than young children! Did we really want to brave the wrath of the little ones when they found out that they would have to wake up early and spend half of their day in classrooms when they could have been sleeping in late and playing in the sun? However, after much deliberation we decided to bite the bullet and keep the school open on Saturday. Susheela’s Kolam (the book that was selected this year) was a lovely account of a little girl who lives in Tamil Nadu and loves to draw Kolams. The story was beautifully illustrated with colourful pictures and even though the story was set far away from Kumaon we felt that the children would be able to relate to Susheela and through her learn something more about another part of the country.

On 8th morning, children walked in brimming with excitement, eager to know why they were in school without their normal textbooks. We kicked off the programme with a music lesson where the children sang a slightly off key rendition of ‘The Lion Sings Tonight’ and some of them even managed to get impromptu guitar lessons. The assembly then broke up into smaller groups so that the children could listen to ‘Susheela’s Kolam’ in Hindi (for the younger children) and English (for the older children). The book served as a lead into further reading of stories from different parts of the country and the world. The children read folk tales from Kashmir, Turkey, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Uttarakhand and Gujarat to each other and learnt a little more about the world. However, the thing that was for us most remarkable and heartening was to see the older children encourage the younger ones to read better and speak up.




In Kumaon Rangoli, known as Aipan in this part of the country, is traditionally made outside homes on special occasions and festivals. Susheela’s story inspired the children at Chirag School to try their hand at making Kolams. The Kolams drawn on the last page (Pages 10 & 11) of the book depicts how these patterns can be made anytime, anywhere. All one needs are a few dots and a little imagination to come with intricate patterns. Next year we hope we can execute this event on a larger scale and incorporate more opportunities for exchange of ideas and foster creativity.  

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Thank you Tanvi and Chirag school for spreading the joy of reading!

View more pictures from the International Literacy Day Celebrations.

This blog contains stories sent in by all our champions. Browse through the blog for more stories. You can also go through the tags on the right side of the blog to find stories happening in your own city.

Note : If any of you want to be a Pratham Books Champion and join us on our journey of getting 'a book in every child's hand', write to us at web(at)prathambooks(dot)org.

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