Thursday, September 17, 2015

“Can You Please Send Me Home This Book. I Want to Show the Story to My Sister Also.”


In the tiny village of Kolwadi, in Pune district, runs a school which is the only English medium school serving a big area and a bigger community. St. Thomas English Medium School (STEMS) wanted to take its students' learning beyond textbooks by building a strong reading program and hence started a campaign on Donate-a-Book to get more books. Their campaign was fully funded within 3 days of going live with our generous community ensuring STEM's reading program kicks off with the bounty of books raised through Donate-a-Book.

STEM's principal,Ms Navitha Thomas writes about the campaign and the books that followed.

About:
St. Thomas English Medium School (STEMS), which is situated at Kolwadi, Kamshet in Pune district of Maharashtra is an initiative of the Mar Thoma Church for the quality education of children in this rural area of Pune. The school was started in 2012 as there is no other English medium school in a radius of 30 kms.

The children are from rural, Marathi background and they are also not financially very well off. Most parents are farmers and hence STEMS is run as a low-budget private school (monthly fees of Rupees 200 only) as it would otherwise be very difficult for parents to educate their children.

Plan for the books received:
English is a totally foreign language for the children. The only exposure to the language they get is the few hours they spend in school. Hence innovative, interesting and varied methods are needed to be used to help the children develop an interest and also learn the language.

Pratham Books are a total blessing for this cause. The stories capture the interest of children and they learn new words very fast. Since this is not followed by exam etc. kids are relaxed and learning is fun.We have started 3 reading periods per week for each class. One story is repeated thrice in a week to help kids develop vocabulary. We have thus started a reading program based on these books.

We have also opened the library to Marathi medium students of a nearby different institution also, as we have got Marathi titles from Pratham Books. (We have also been motivated by the Pratham Books’ ‘Read India‘Motto)

Arrival of Books:
The kids were really excited on seeing the new books arrive. Most of the children especially bigger kids chorused “WOW” on seeing the books.Some other reactions went like this:

“Aaj se roj yehi books padhenge”

“ Can you please send me home this book I want to show the story to my sister also”

“Can we enact this story on stage” (We usually have a practice of enacting school lessons.)

Lots of other spontaneous responses like “Wow ! what a big hen …”

“Look at this dog, my doggie also looks the same..” etc.

Experience on Donate-a-Book:
While we were very happy to be part of the campaign, we were not too clear on a few processes as this was our first crowd funding effort. Please do induct new entrants like us with more information and hand-holding so that we can participate more effectively in the future. Overall it was a good experience.


Feedback on books

Some things I have observed and really like about Pratham books are as follows:

- Bilingual series Marathi – English helps them to understand the story in their mother tongue as well as learn the English words.
- Interesting, since they are story format, children never get tired or bored and are eager to hear and learn more.
-Values imbibed in stories help in whole some development. Especially since kids want to emulate/ identify with the characters or situation in story.
-Simple and contextual stories which kids can easily relate with.
-Child centered stories, where the feelings and emotions of the child are described.
-Informative value.
-Imagination/ Creative faculties enhanced due to the story line.
-Visually appealing due to large coloured pictures.
I would like to see more bilinguals especially at levels 1 and 2.

-Ms.Navitha Thomas, Principal, STEMS

"Look at this dog, my doggie also looks the same."
"Aaj se roj yehi books padhenge..!"
Donate-a-Book is a unique crowdfunding platform for children's books. Support other campaigns like St. Thomas English Medium School's get more books in multiple Indian languages here.

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