Kuhu was excited when a group of foreigners arrived at her government primary school in Nanoorkheda. The six-year-old had a reason to smile. The group are from a NGO which inaugurated the 20,000th library at the nondescript school under its global programme.
With its goal to inculcate reading habit among kids, the San Francisco headquartered ‘Room to Read’ has established libraries in government schools across 14 countries. India alone accounts for 7,961 libraries and 540 will come up this financial year. Published by the NGO, books in local languages are provided at libraries.
“I am excited as we will get to read so many story books,” Kuhu said in excitement.
Focussed on children from developing countries, the NGO works on imparting literacy and gender equality in education. “Working in collaboration with local communities, partner organisations and governments, we develop literacy skills and a habit of reading among primary school children, and support girls to complete secondary school with the relevant life skills to succeed in school and beyond,” the NGO official website says.
For this objective, teachers are provided soft skill training. The curriculum – divided in levels – provides opportunity to students to understand and read the books. “We want children not only to learn reading (at least three times faster), but also to develop reading as a habit,” Room to Read chief development officer Geetha Murali told Hindustan Times on Wednesday.
Mostly in Hindi, the books are designed to cater some of the most favourite topics of kids. “Books with humour are most liked by students, and so instead of putting some well known characters like Barbie or Ben Ten, we have used common characters like dogs, cats and people for a wider acceptance among students,” Geetha said.
Instead of developing new resources, she said, the teams are working with available resources to make this project a success. “The government is supportive and has understood the importance of our work. It’s one of the states which will report some exceptional results in the coming time.”
At the same time, the NGO also runs a gender equality programme under which 50,000 girls have been supported for their studies. The programme is active in countries such as Nepal, Vietnam, Cambodia, India, Sri Lanka, Laos, South Africa among others.