It is said, “The well-being of children leads to the well-being of the world”. Following the maxim, the NGO ChildFund India launched the second phase –“Ujjwal Bhavishya Ki Ore”(Towards a brighter future)– of its nation-wide reading improvement campaign, ‘Books, my Friends’, at the India Habitat Centre recently.
The campaign aims to introduce the joy of reading to 1.15 lakh children, in the age group 6-14 years, belonging to the underprivileged and excluded communities across 14 states of the country.
In the first phase of its campaign, in December 2014,ChildFund India distributed “reading bags” consisting of multi-lingual books to encourage and promote the pleasure of reading outside the textbooks. It also conducted various interactive activities around the books like reading them aloud, skits, storytelling and painting.
The second phase launched on Friday aims to eliminate one of the biggest barriers to reading – “lack of electricity” in backward areas. The rural areas sorely lack basic amenities, with electricity being one, which reduces the basic standard of living. The campaign ensures to distribute solar lamp with a charger to each enrolled child/family to help them overcome their basic problems and to encourage reading in the later hours of the day.
A member of ChildFund International, ChildFund India has been representing the voice of deprived, excluded and vulnerable children in India since 1951. The key focus areas of the NGO include child protection, gender equality and humanitarian relief work.
The launch of the second phase was followed by a panel discussion on the topic ‘Lighting up the future–Making reading more accessible to children and how to do it”. The panellists included well known personalities like Dr Syeda Saiyidain Hameed (former member of the Planning Commission), Vivek Prakash (operations head of Jubilant Bhartia Foundation), Professor Sujatha Kalimili (HoD, Educational Administration at NUEPA),Subir Shukla (principal coordinator at IGNUS PAHAL,a non-profit company working on education and Geoffrey Petkovich (Asia regional director for ChildFund International).
Various questions like “A 10-year-old child from an unprivileged background reads like a five-year-old child in urban India. Why this discrepancy exists?” and “Are there any important factors to improve reading and comprehension skills of children?”, were addressed by the panelists.
“One should understand the diversity of geographical localities and introduce books which match their wavelength. Enjoyable texts, including visuals and graphics, can be used to promote and excite the young readers,” says Prof Sujatha Kalimili.
The event also saw participation of children associated with the campaign. “My school doesn’t have a library but I love to read,” Tina, a child from Firozabad district enrolled in the program,
Neelam Makhijani, national director of ChildFund India announced the upcoming collaborations and emphasised the role of the campaign for a brighter India.
Putting books in the hands of children can empower and shape their lives. Campaigns like these that promote the basic habit of reading at an early age will help build a strong and a vibrant foundation for the child and the country.
To know more about the campaign visit www.ChildFundIndia.org.