A window to the world opens for Govt school students

reading rooms

A climb through the stairs of this library would unmistakably remind you of your own school. Walls plastered with chart papers bearing beautiful poems, motivational lines, drawings, not to forget the paper markers reading ‘Kahaniyon ka ghar’ and ‘Pustakalaya ki or’.

And then you see the library, brimming with colours and girly giggles, neatly placed books in racks and customised little tables and chairs. You would bet that this is an upmarket private school located somewhere in a posh area of Delhi, or actually, would you?

This is the Uttar Delhi Nagar Nigam Prathmik Vidyalaya, run by Municipal Corporation of Delhi, in Karol Bagh. And this model library for junior school has been set up by ‘Room To Read’ -- an international non-profit organisation working to establish libraries in Government schools in India and across the world. The seemingly small efforts of Room To Read are making a world of a difference to how knowledge is disbursed in such establishments and making hundreds of students fall in love with studies when as many, every year, simply opt out of school.

Unmesh Brahme, Country Director, Room to Read, India, says, “RTR started with a small initiative by a Microsoft executive, John Wood, who ventured to Nepal. There, on a chance visit, he saw the hardships faced by students who have little or no access to books, especially those outside of their curriculum. He began with donating some of his own books, which went on the back of a yak, and since then, it has grown to include 10 countries, over two million books and 15,000 libraries worldwide.”

In Delhi alone, where they work with MCD schools only, Room To Read has set up 800 libraries in 222 schools. They have a Memorandum of Understanding with the MCD and provide them with books, colourful and educative posters, book racks, age-appropriate furniture and even paint the walls to make them attractive for the children.

The organisation even commissions well-known writers to author children’s books for them, publishes them in a printing house of its own and has tie-ups with other publishing houses such as Katha, Pratham and Tulika. It periodically trains MCD school teachers in library activities and library management.

Teachers at such schools acknowledge the paradigm change this initiative has brought to their schools and teaching techniques. Ritika, a library in charge at one such school says, “Schools like ours do have a library of government providing but these stock very text-heavy, boring and age-inappropriate books and children don’t even want to come to the libraries then.”

“But since the time Room to Read has set up a facility, kids miss out on free periods and lunch time to come and read books here.” The children themselves admit to their love for the RTR libraries. Sahima, a Vth grader at the Uttar Delhi Nagar Nigam Prathmik Vidyalaya, Karol Bagh, said, “Earlier, we were never allowed to take books home. How much can one read in the library period in half-an-hour.”

“Now, we take books home and my little brother and sister also read them. Sometimes, my parents also read and enjoy them. It’s a library for all of us.” 

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