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Gijubhai Badheka was a contemporary of Gandhiji. For 24 years, he ran the most creative school for children in Bhavnagar, Gujarat. Everyday, he told children a story — which captivated them and whetted their appetite for more. In the afternoons, the children would enact those stories. Soon, they became so adept with words that there was no need to ‘mug-up’ the dialogues by ‘rote’. If they forgot a few lines, they could ‘invent’ them on the spot. Gijubhai felt it was totally illogical and foolish for every child to have the same, state sponsored textbook.
He said, “What could be more foolish than all the 50 children having the same book.” So, when the new session began, Gijubhai urged the children not to buy ‘textbooks’ but instead, give them the money for buying storybooks. So, in the 1920s’, Gijubhai swept aside textbooks and bought three different storybooks for every child. With this large collection of illustrated storybooks, he started a classroom library.This was a library with the children’s own money — not gifted by UNICEF, Pratham or the World Bank. Instead of three textbooks, children could now read over a hundred colourfully illustrated storybooks. Gijubhai’s progressive vision of education “not the word but the world”, has been replicated by few schools since independence.