Monday, January 19, 2009

Books Reach Children in Bihar

The Bihar government came up with an initiative to bridge the gap between children and books and Pratham Books was a part of it. It has been a tiring but exciting three months. And as the mela drew to a close, we were glad to have been able to reach children all across Bihar. The following Hindi article describes this initiative and the need for it. For those of you who cannot read the following Hindi document (written by Rukmini Banerji and Manisha Chaudhry), here is a short summary:

Reading and learning are important aspects of education. If a child is unable to read, any educational programme is of no use to him/her. The more a child reads, the more he wants to keep reading and to facilitate this need, there is a requirement of more books.

Books open up the world of a child as he/she begins to connect what they read or hear with concepts they have encountered earlier. Thus, books and reading them is not just important at the school level, but also for the future of a child as it lays the foundation for his/her success.

The article mentions a report which gives statistics on the level of proficiency expected from a child in a certain grade and how the current statistics do not match up to this expected level. Mostly, children in rural areas do not have access to books (other than their text books). If children do not inculcate the habit of reading-learning in the early stages, it makes reading, learning and understanding a very difficult process as they advance to higher grades.

India's biggest challenge is "how do we help chidren in this process at an early stage?". The article is about how Bihar is tackling this challenge.

Bihar took this step by starting the 'Bodhi Vriksh Programme'. This could be the biggest investement that has been made in India's history towards making books (other than text books) available for young children. The money allocated for this programme was approximately 30 crore Rupees.

Based on N.C.E.R.T Guidelines, books were selected for different age groups of children. The books of the following publishers were chosen- National Book Trust, Children's Book Trust, Pratham Books, Scholastic and Eklavya. All the books available were in Hindi.

The Book fair (Pustak Mela) started on November 20, 2008 and carried on to January 7, 2009.

There were several issues that needed to be tackled--money had to reach schools on time, important book-related information had to be given, all districts had to ensure participation of all schools. Even publishers had to face the challenge of making their books available on time as well as selling them.

The 'Bodhi Vriksh Programme' is not stopping at just making books available to children. Reports on its impact and reach will also be collected.

The months of November, December and January have been monumental in the history of Bihar and we hope that this initiative changes the life of these children and also that other states adopt or improvise on such initiatives to reach the tiny tots in their states too.

Kitabain Chali Bihar Ke Bachhoan Ke Pass









Also, two articles published in the Hindustan Times and Jan Satta on 18th January, 2009:



Missed any of our previous posts on this project in Bihar? Click here, here and here.

Pictures from
our adventures in Bihar.

Download the pdf document
here.

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