Monday, February 23, 2015

E-Library: Now in a Government School In Bangalore!

Reading with friends 
A couple of days back a happy email popped into my mail box. Our friends from Mantra4Change had shared a Facebook album with me with photographs from the Digital Reading program in progress they had just started in one of their partner schools. I was very excited to see the pictures; kids engrossed in reading one of our titles ‘Colours of Nature’ sitting in small groups in front of the bright desktop screens.  When I got to know more about this school and the work Mantra4Change does, my belief in the power of community in empowering our Education institutions strengthened.

This picture is from the Government Urdu Model Primary School,Farooqia Nagar in Bangalore. This school is one of the partner schools for Mantra4Change where they transform and empower a school to take it to its full potential by connecting and engaging with the teachers at a deeper level. We shared our CC books with them to set up a digital-reading program in their partner schools. In the Government Urdu Model Primary School, students from Standard 1st to 7th standard get a chance to come to the computer lab during their computer period and read books of their choice. Earlier, the same period was used to play games on computers and generally create chaos in the lab because no computer was otherwise taught.  The Mantra Team first trained the teachers’ basics of how to use a computer, how to start it and access stories kept in separate folders. This percolated down to students who sat in groups of 2s and 3s to read a story of their choice of language and title.

What fascinated me most about the pictures was the good health of the computers and the bright LCD screens in front of the kids. If you have ever stepped into Government schools in Bangalore (or anywhere else in the country), you will know the sorry state of the labs and the defunct computers that occupy these, so my wonderment was genuine. When inquired further, I got to know that one of the well-off members of this densely populated community devotes 10% of his earnings to good causes. Those computers have been supplied to the school , thanks to his donation. This gentleman decided to put 10% of his hard earned money into bettering Education for the children of his community.  Imagine if the entire community took matters in its hands and worked towards getting better infrastructure, conducive learning environment, better teaching tools to support Education, would there remain any gap at all in India education landscape of rich vs poor or urban vs rural?

The team at Mantra4Change has recognized this power and engages with the communities around their partner school meanwhile continuing its efforts towards empowering the teachers. They are in process of setting this e-library at one more Government school at KP Agrahara  through the computers donated by Zyme Solutions and another one in an affordable private school in Rajendra Nagar.

 Do check out their Facebook page to engage with them or support their Fund-Raising campaign to help students from low-income families in receiving quality education.

Pratham Books is actively spreading its digital footprints to increase the access of multilingual and multi-level books to children. Many of our books are under the Creative Commons, whose digital copies are shared with our partner organizations under the Digital Reading programs that we jointly run. We thank the Mantra team for taking our books to multiple Government schools in Bangalore. All the best Team Mantra4Change! May your tribe increase!

Teachers getting trained on how to use an E-Library
Girls engrossed in reading 'Colours of Nature'

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