Camps, fests raise student awareness in Rajasthan

Children interacting in Maitri Mela.

In a bid to raise student awareness, social organisations working in the education sector in Rajasthan have implemented ideas such as children's festivals and fairs and learning through games and activities.

Maitri Mela - Bal Bhavan

One such effort is Maitri Mela, a residential environment camp for children conducted by Bal Bhavan Jaipur for the last 16 years. At a recent three-day camp, about 75 school children from government and private schools engaged in activities such as games based on environmental movements in India, a nature walk, a treasure hunt, stargazing, collage-making and campfire storytelling. Charanjeet Dhillon of Bal Bhawan told DH: "Bal Bhavan is a creative resource centre to empower underprivileged students and to bring sidelined students into the mainstream. This time, students were asked to read about famous environment movements in India such as Narmada Bachao, Aviral Ganga, Chipko, Shanti Ghati, Save Silent Valley, Tehri Bachao and Jungle Bachao. They submitted an essay in which they expressed their viewpoints." 


Maitri Mela at Bal Bhavan

Sharing her experience as a participant, 8th standard student Khushi Shekhawat said: "Games such as Caterpillar, Ulta Pulta, Neem Neembo are helpful not only to learn about environment movements but also to make us responsible to safeguard the environment and help others."

Stressing the need for environment camps to sensitise today's children, Jaipur-based lawyer and Bal Bhavan volunteer Himanshu Singh said: "When it comes to modern history, most mass movements are suppressed. Hence, this is an attempt to introduce students to some of the mass movements of India. Apart from the environment emphasis, the idea is to bring a mixed group of children from different socio-economic backgrounds on a common platform and break artificial barriers and prejudice."

Kitaabo - The Blue City Children’s Literature Festival

Children's festivals are getting popular in Rajasthan as a means of education. One such success is Kitaabo – The Blue City Children’s Literature Festival, which is designed for school children between the ages of 8 and 14. The idea is to help them cultivate a lifelong relationship with literature. About 75 experts from all over the world attended the third edition of Kitaabo held in Jodhpur last month. It is the first effort of the Desert Leaf Foundation to bring a world of intellectual stimulation through written, spoken and visual engagement to the children of Jodhpur and neighbouring areas.


The third edition of KITAABO children's festival held at Jodhpur. 

There's an emphasis on storytelling, theatre, music, poetry, arts and crafts, quizzes, writing, publishing, performing arts and others. A special focus in its third edition in December 2018 was on clinical psychologists conducting sessions with children. Experts who attended included Carnatic musician Sudha Raghurama, writer Ashok Chakradhar, theatre artists Vikas Kapoor and Neeti Singhi, clinical psychologists Madhavi and Prasad Gadkari, Neha Singh and a group from Rahi theatre and noted educationist Prof Mohammad Hassan, who read poems from his book 'Sediments of Silence'.

On curating the children's festival, Kitaabo Director Ira Sisodia said: "Growing as an educational and cultural hub, Jodhpur city in the Marwar area of Rajasthan has contributed immensely in the growth of literary and cultural activities, along with preserving the rich heritage of the state. Desert Leaf Foundation also aims to host this festival in various other second rung cities of India in the future, which will build on the success and continue to spread the love for literature across myriad forms".

Vikas Balia, a Kitaabo organiser, said: "The festival addressed the specific theme of gender equality, women’s liberation, environmental issues, preservation and promotion of ethnic art, culture, religion and cultural assimilation".

Kitaabo witnessed a turnout of about 15,000 children and was unique in its approach. This was the first time that children from various parts of Jodhpur created art installations, weaving their own stories through creative thinking. The most prominent was a 380-foot wall painted in 25 hours by 25 students of Rajmata Krishna Kumari Girls School. Students of JD institute created a 3D installation inspired by Malgudi days. Another attraction of the fest was a camera obscura by Ashmi Mridul, which was to mould scientific imagination. Many children lined up to “enter the camera” and enjoy the image.

Bookaroo - Festival of Children's Literature

Twenty-seven authors, illustrators, storytellers and performers from 12 cities are set to delight children and parents alike in Jaipur with scintillating storytelling, workshops, drama, arts and crafts and books at the 3rd edition of Bookaroo.

Two days of fun with books will unfold at Jawahar Kala Kendra. The festival will showcase 51 sessions for children between 4 and 14 over the weekend of Jan. 12 and 13, 2019.


Bookaroo festival

As part of this year’s celebrations, Bookaroo will present Bookart – an exhibition of original artworks from children’s books by three winners of the Big Little Book Awards - Atanu Roy Roy, Proiti Roy and Nina Sabnani. These artworks will be on display until Jan. 13. Other Bookaroo highlights will include storytelling, sessions on climate change and ‘Scrollathon’, which aims to make the longest scroll of some of Rajasthan’s well-loved stories.

The fest speakers include Archana Garodia Gupta, Asha Nehemiah, Bijal Vachharajani, Dr Laique Hussain, Chetan Sharma, Cordis Paldano, Durgabai Vyam, Jeeva Raghunath, Kapil Pandey, Nalini Sorensen, Neetu Sharma, Pallavi Singh, Proiti Roy, Reshma K. Barshikar, Roshni Vyam, Shalini Tayal, Shruti Garodia, Shubham Lakhera, Soumitra Ranade, Subhash Vyam, Swagata Sen Pillai, Vagmi Raghava, Vaishali Shroff, Vandana Bist, Chandana Dutta and Vranda Rathi.

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Camps, fests raise student awareness in Rajasthan

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