We are celebrating International Translation Day, and we are grateful for the support of our wonderful translation partners who help us reach more children, protect linguistic heritage, and build a culture of reading. Here is a post by Archana Nambiar, Research Consultant at Pratham Books. She writes about the work done for the indegenous language, Kora, by Shanto and our friends at Suchana, in West Bengal, India.
Shanto Konra is among the first from his village to have attended college and the first person to have completed a masters education in Bengali. He does not recollect reading any literature in his mother tongue Kora while growing up, let alone children’s books. In 2007 he joined Suchana, a community group working on improving the quality of education to Adivasi children in Birbhum district of West Bengal. Today he is the Secretary of the organization, and works as a translator and development officer for the Kora language.
Suchana’s focus has been on promoting learning through the mother tongue in the early years. The indigenous languages Santali and Kora have a rich oral tradition but no children’s literature. Teachers who teach Santali and Kora children are usually completely bereft of resources for early literacy development. There are very few qualified teachers from these communities who can use their mother tongues in the teaching-learning process. Since 2009, the Suchana team has been developing a series of books in Kora and Santali using the Bengali script that support the multilingual approach to education. By 2014, they had developed 15 books in Kora and Santali that included alphabet primers, number charts, flash cards and storybooks. Shanto was instrumental in developing the first ever primer in Kora language called Allo Pora and a word book.
The collaboration with StoryWeaver changed the way in which Suchana viewed content creation. The StoryWeaver platform allowed them to translate 105 books in Santali and a hundred in Kora within a short span of two years. All these stories are published on StoryWeaver. Suchana has printed 10,000 copies of 20 titles and distributed these books to government schools, pre-schools and other organizations in the region. Both the print and digital stories are incorporated into their mobile library programme which reaches around 3000 children in 25 villages. Librarians from Suchana show the digital stories on laptops to children and conduct read-aloud sessions and related activities. Children are allowed to take the books home to read with their families.
Suchana also works with government schools on using mother tongue based approaches in early years. Santali and Kora books have been shared with teachers from these schools. The books, particularly the bilingual ones, have proven to be great resources for the teachers who are mostly from non-tribal backgrounds, for teaching tribal children. Suchana has recently trained anganwadi workers from 49 anganwadis on using these books and is hoping that these will be adopted for early childhood education.
There is empirical evidence to suggest that learning to read in one’s mother tongue in the early years makes learning more engaging, relevant and enjoyable for children. Children who benefit from mother tongue instruction also learn a second language faster and better. Having access to a variety of books in these languages can help children transition from their mother tongues into Bengali, the state language.
Shanto feels that the storybooks have given certain legitimacy to his language. Until recently, Kora has been outside the realm of literature. He prides himself on his contribution towards preserving a language which might have been on the brink of disappearance. The translation process gave him an opportunity to revive some of the lost words in Kora. People from the Kora community were using several Bengali words instead of the original Kora vocabulary. Together with fellow translators, he re-learnt some of these disappearing Kora words from community elders and included them in the storybooks, wherever possible. Examples of such replaced Kora words are chahalam (tail), jhanahjaha / rik (do things), tayen (alligator), arshi (mirror), taruh (tiger), teyang (brother-in-law), hili (sister-in-law).
‘Cat brushing her teeth and a rat looking in the mirror’ by Rajiv Eipe, ‘Tiger looking at hare’ by Rohan Chakravarty, ‘Tail of a tiger’ by Nirzara Verulkar
Shanto is happy that children from his community can now read in their mother tongue and tell their own stories. He attests to the fact that the storybooks have given children a sense of identity. These books have ensured that Adivasi children can discover the joy of reading. Knowledge of one’s mother tongue is critical to connecting to one’s roots and keeping the cultural heritage alive. StoryWeaver has empowered indigenous writers and creators to create engaging children’s books in their own languages. Shanto is hopeful that he will continue to create more stories for children and is excited about developing his first original story on StoryWeaver.
Watch our interview with Shanto here.
You can read the storybooks translated by Shanto and access StoryWeaver’s Kora library here.Be the first to comment.
FINALLY! The results for Pratham Books’ Retell, Remix and Rejoice contest 2019 are here! A big thank you to all the participants for taking part, and being super patient with us as the judges read through each of your wonderful stories.
This year, we received 70 entries. It’s magical to witness the increase in the number and variety of language entries! English entries leading with 37 count definitely did not dim the light of the language entries which were 13, 6, 5, 4, 3 and 2 for languages Hindi, Urdu, Tamil, Kannada, Bengali and Marathi, respectively.
The lovely stories were graded with much patience and difficulty (they cut really close!) by the amazing team of editors at Pratham Books! They read and re-read the bunch and came up with the three top stories.
Many congratulations to… drum roll please!
This illustration by Rajiv Eipe originally appeared in the print version of 'The Boy and the Drum' by Pratham Books.
Each finalist will receive a gift hamper of books from Pratham Books and will have a one-on-one feedback session with a Pratham Books editor. One final story will then be chosen for illustration.
You shall hear from us shortly.comment (1)
Here’s a post by Purvi Shah, Director – StoryWeaver, to mark a special time in StoryWeaver’s world: Our 4th birthday
Say hello to Manisha, a young girl from the Mudia community that lives in Central India. The Mudia community speak Gondi, an indigenous language with 2 million speakers. Despite the large population, surprisingly, this is the first book Manisha has ever read in her own language!
The world has made an ambitious commitment to the goal of universal literacy by 2030, where all children will be able to read. For this to be achieved, having high quality reading materials in languages that children use and understand is essential. But the global book gap means that millions of children like Manisha lack access to these critically needed reading resources.
StoryWeaver was launched 4 years ago on International Literacy Day to address the inequities that exist for children’s books: not enough books, in not enough languages, and very poor access. When we launched, our goal was to create a participatory framework where content creators and users could collaborate with each other to create joyful reading material in multiple languages. We believe this will have a multiplier effect to address the scarcity of multilingual reading resources that exists in India and globally.
The book that Manisha was holding was created on StoryWeaver by a group of 20 educator volunteers who translated 300 books into Gondi, reviewed and published them on the platform in just a few days. The books were then printed locally and distributed in Manisha’s village as part of a community literacy programme.
Today, the platform hosts 15,500 books in over 200 languages of the world. This scale would not have been possible without the power of collaboration:
Publishers like Room to Read amd Pratham Books, who have open licensed their content at scale. Linguists and translators who have introduced us to new languages. Educators in every nook and corner of the world who have welcomed us into their classrooms and the hearts of their students.
With millions of users from over 150 countries, StoryWeaver is harnessing the power of open licences, collaboration, and technology to create a societal platform that is providing open access to thousands of books in local languages to nurture the next generation of readers and learners.
None of this would have been possible without your support. Thank you. Times 4!