I was quite enthusiastic when I was given my share of responsibility for facilitating an event on the occasion of 50th International Literacy Day, on September 8th, 2016.
Parivartan in collaboration with NGO Pratham under its “Read India Movement” conducted storytelling session. The intent was to bring forth the joy of reading and to give kids a platform to portray their creativity. To ensure the event runs smoothly, meticulous planning and preparation was done well in advance. Inter alia, the objective was to celebrate narration through illustrations, images and to make learning engaging yet meaningful for children.
The event engaged 17 Government schools and 2 Aaganwadi centres with a participation of 570 kids. I went to a Government school in मिया के भटकन which is very close to my workplace for conducting the session. Rest of the facilitators went to multiple locations. The Story एक पंख विशालकाय गजपक्षी was read out to kids using different means which included usage of illustrations, flashcards, hand gestures, facial expressions and body language to make it an interactive storytelling scenario followed by Multiple Story Extension Activities to convey the story perspicaciously. It was encouraging to get the acceptance from kids and teachers which made me put all my efforts to make it enjoyable for them. In the image shown below, the activity aimed at giving kids the space to show their creativity. They were made to sit in groups where they first shared their ideas with each other and drew interesting pictures of different characters from the story.
Then in another school, the use of Drama technique like Role plays brought kinesthetic responses to the story and engaged children in “learning by doing”. One particular scene was picked up from the story to perform where kids voluntarily took part in it and used gestures, sounds and imitated each & every character from the scene. They had lot of fun while doing this particular activity.
At Anganwadi centre, use of handmade flashcards turned out to be an effective way to convey the story. The style of narration using numbered flashcards engaged little kids so much that the two main characters मुनिया and गजपक्षी became their Super heroes.
While i was happy about the fact that the event went well, somewhere deep down I wasn’t feeling good. Though seeing their smiling faces and heartfelt participation in the activity was enormously satisfying but seeing the disadvantageous condition(s) they are raised in and denied the “right to quality education” is certainly disturbing. Children looked so keen and enthusiastic to learn something new but unfortunately their purpose of going school is not fulfilled as majority of them here go to Government schools. Due to poor infrastructure which is another major concern, it is displeasing to see kids sitting on the floor or on torn mats and getting nothing in return in terms of learning.
For the first time in my Life, I celebrated Literacy Day which nudged me to think how imperative it is to look beyond this “Single Day” if we wish to see the increase in percentage of literates in India. Narration of a simple story based on an animal called “गजपक्षी” to a bunch of 30 kids made me realize that there is no reason I should not care about this problem. This level of inequity in education does impact all other social indicators. It’s just not fair with them. All that is within me tells me to do something so that every single kid has that chance and opportunities you and I had growing up. What they choose to do with that is in their hands but my deep desire is to give them that chance.