Story time for underprivileged schools

Instructions before they begin to read their story books.
Instructions before they begin to read their story books.

I like Mullah Nasruddin and Vikram ­aur Bethal,” said Munaza Pathan, a class 4 student of Swami Dayanand Saraswati Primary School. She can now borrow books from her school library and read them to her “amma aur mere teen dost,” thanks to GyanJyot (Flame of Knowledge) — a project of RC Baroda Sayajinagari, D 3060, that emphasises the habit of reading in students of 55 underprivileged schools in the region. At the end of three years, 20,000 students have been enrolled in this programme.

“We identified through a random survey that the need for reading was much higher than educational kits or cycles. Children seemed interested in pictoral books with limited text,” said Club ­President Kalpesh Shah. So new books were purchased by the club and “we included moral story books. ­Rotarians labelled them as per the ­prescription of TEACH. Classroom libraries were then installed. “The kids were so excited, they were reaching out for the books saying, ‘Uncle mujhe bhi do na,’ he recalls.

We identified that the need for reading was much higher than ­educational kits or cycles.

The much needed library programme operates in an annular pattern and books are circulated to students of classes 4–8. During a free period the books are ­distributed and the last 15 minutes are dedicated for a one to one ­“question and answer session, so that the teacher can mark the student’s ­development,” says Kethubhen Pathak, Principal of Swami ­Dayanand ­Saraswati Primary School. Children share the ­stories they read and sometimes enact them too, she adds.

Although the programme has fallen in place,“irregularity in attendance remains a big drawback,” she adds. “Rotary is constructing toilets, building schools and providing clean water. We ended polio, I am sure we will eradicate illiteracy too,” adds Shah.

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