Azad India Foundation (AIF) was founded by Yuman Hussain in 1998 to seed initiatives in education & primary health care. The organisaton's activities reach out to marginalised women, adolescents and underserved children from rural and urban areas of Kishanganj district in Bihar. AIF has learning centres at 73 villages in three blocks of Pothia, Kishanganj and Thakurganj in Kishanganjimpacting 3,500 + children directly in the area. The children in AIF's centres are aged between 6-9 yeas and are either school dropouts or attending Madrassas. The centre's syllabus includes Hindi, English, Science and Maths. The main aim of the initiative is to ensure that children are ready to merge with mainstream education in state-run schools by grade 4. 

AIF is also our first partner translator to have completed its goal of translating 100 StoryWeaver books into Surjapuri. Surjapuri is spoken in pockets of Bihar, West Bengal, Assam and Bangladesh by 1.2 million people. In Bihar, the language is spoken in Koshanganj, Katihar, Purnia and Araria districts. In an email interview Yuman Hussain tells us why creating a hyperlocal library in Surjapuri is important and how AIF managed to reach its goal of 100 books in collaboration with its project and cluster coordinators. 

Tell us more about Azad India Foundation? 

Azad India Foundation (AIF) has been working in Kishanganj district of Bihar from 2001. It started its activities with a non-formal education and vocational training centre for women. Over the years, AIF’s focus has been on the development of poor and marginalized children, adolescents and women. Our activities are in the fields of women’s literacy, formal school education, non-formal education, rural employment, income generating skills, SHG formation, and community health programmes. Currently, we are directly working with 3,500 children in the primary classes through learning centres in 73 villages of four blocks — Kochadaman, Pothia, Kishanganj and Thakurganj. 

What are the long-term effects of a lack of easy access to resources in mother tongue languages for the communities that you work with?

Surjapuri is local language spoken among a large section of people in the Seemanchal area (Kishanganj, Araria, Purea and Katihar) of Bihar. Unfortunately, we have not seen any books or resources available in the local language for the children. There is a possibility that these languages will be lost over a period of time as more and more people now speak Hindi. In fact, when we started translating books in Surjapuri and shared them with the children and community members they were unable to recognize their own written language.

What are the benefits of creating a local digital library of joyful storybooks in Surjapuri?

Creating a hyperlocal library at StoryWeaver will help our children have access to and preserve Surjapuri as their language. It would also enable them develop their reading skills and enjoy stories from all over the world in their own dialect. The digital library is free besides being easily accessible to every one. The mobile friendly feature has made it possible for the books to reach even remote corners of the country.

 

Tell us more about your team of conributors and how you managed to translate and publish the 100 Surjapuri stories? 

The stories were translated by the team of project Badhte Kadam comprising cluster coordinators Aslam, Chand, Juhi and teachers. They were really excited about creating Surjapuri stories as it gave them an opportunity to contribute to the preservation of their own language. Muzzamil, who is the project head, reviewed the stories. The stories were chosen according to the themes and levels of the children accessing them. The toughest part was the typing and uploading of the stories that was done diligently by Saqlain, our computer operator. AIF is really proud and thankful to its team members for completing this programme within the stipulated time period with sincerity and enthusiasm. We will continue adding more stories and hope to bring the joy of reading to all children.

 

AIF's Team Badhte Kadam

How does Azad India Foundation plan to use this digital library of a 100 books?

AIF plans to introduce these stories among the children at our learning centres. We are also spreading the message through social media about the StoryWeaver platform so that the community can access, use these stories and help in building this digital library further with many more books. This is a small step towards the preservation of local languages for which we are grateful to the StoryWeaver platform.

You can read the Surjapuri stories translated by  Azad India Foundation here

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Unnati Institute for Social and Educational Change has been working in the district of Akola Akot and Telhara in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra with children from the Korku tribal community since the last five years. They work towards the improvement of literacy skills of these children. Since the Korku language does not have a script, the organisation is developing resources using the Devanagari script to ensure that the children learn to read and write Korku. These resources include storybooks, songs, curriculum-related resources and reading material. It runs a programme on ‘Enhancing Language Skills of Children from Tribal Communities’ through education support classes with the objective of facilitating improvement in tribal children’s basic reading and writing with comprehension skills in Korku, their mother tongue and Marathi, which is a medium of instruction in schools. Tribal youth have taken the lead in translating Hindi and Marathi storybooks into Korku as part of this programme and children are excited and happy as they are getting to read stories in their own mother tongue. Sharad Prakash Suryawanshi, Program Manager Unnati ISEC shares the journey of building a Korku digital library.

                      

उन्नती संस्था गेल्या पाच वर्षापसून अकोला जिल्ह्यातील अकोट आणि तेल्हारा या तालुक्यातील कोरकू आदिवासी मुलांना वाचन लेखन यावं, याकरिता काम करीत आहे. कोरकू मुलांना वाचन लेखन यावे, याकरिता संस्था कोरकू भाषेत उपलब्ध नसलेले साहित्य देवनागरी लिपी वापरून विकसित करण्याचे काम करीत आहे, कारण कोरकू भाषेला लिपी नाहीये. त्यात गोष्टींचे पुस्तके, गाणे, वाचनपाठ, शैक्षणिक साहित्य असे निर्मिती करीत आहे.

त्याचच एक भाग म्हणून विविध प्रकाशनाचे गोष्टींचे पुस्तके भाषांतर, रुपांतर करून मुलांना वाचनास उपलब्ध करून देत आहोत. त्यांना त्यांच्या भाषेत पुस्तके मिळाल्याने ते सुद्धा आनंदाने वाचन करतात. हे पाहून खूप समाधान वाटत आहे. हे भाषांतर करण्याचे काम कोरकू आदिवासी युवक-युवती हेच करतात. त्याची प्रक्रिया ही पुढील प्रमाणे सांगता येईल.

टप्पा पहिला - पुस्तकांची निवड : उपलब्ध पुस्तकांपैकी पुस्तकात ग्रामीण भागाचे चित्र, मजकूर, आशय पाहतो. तसेच स्त्री-पुरुष समानता दर्शवणारे, मुलांच्या भावविश्वाला स्पर्श करणारी. अशा पुत्कांची निवड पूर्ण कार्यकर्ते करतात. 

टप्पा दुसरा - भाषांतर : निवडलेले पुस्तकाची प्रिंट काढली जाते, मग तीन कार्यकर्ते एकत्र बसतात, चर्चा करतात, आणि गोष्टीचे भाषांतर  सुरु होते. त्यांना काही शब्द समजत नाही, त्याचा अर्थ समजत नाही, त्यासाठी मग समन्वयकासोबत, शब्दकोश मध्ये पाहून चर्चा केली जाते. त्यानंतर जी गोष्ट भाषांतर केली, त्याची प्रिंट काढली जाते. आणि परत अजून भाषांतर बरोबर झाले का हे पहिले जाते, त्यावर चर्चा करून बदल केले जातात.  

टप्पा तिसरा - रुपांतर : जे पुस्तक भाषांतर केले, ते कार्यकर्ते घरी घेऊन जातात, आणि घरातील वरिष्ठांना, समुदायात लोकांना वाचून दाखवतात, त्यावर त्यांचे मत विचारात घेऊन, नोंद केली जाते. तसेच गावात ज्यांना लिहिता वाचता येतं, त्यांना मराठी आणि कोरकू भाषेतील पुस्तकांच्या प्रिंट वाचण्यास दिल्या जातात, त्यावरून त्यांच्या काही सूचना आल्या तर, त्या नोंदवून घेतल्या जातात. ही प्रक्रिया झाल्यावर, कार्यलयात दुसऱ्या दिवशी तिन्ही कार्यकर्ते परत बसतात, दोन्ही नोंदी पाहून चर्चा करतात, आणि तसे बदल करतो. 

टप्पा चौथा – पुस्तकात सर्व चर्चा करून संकलन केले जाते. त्याच्या मराठी, हिंदी आणि कोरकू भाषेतील पुस्तकाच्या रंगीत प्रिंट काढून किंवा दुकानातून पुस्तक विकत घेऊन, काही पुस्तके मिळत नाहीत, मिळाले तरी पाहिजे तेवढ्या प्रतींमध्ये मिळत नाही. हे पुस्तके मग शिकू आनंदे वर्गातील मुलांना, गावातील मुलांना उन्नती पुस्तक पेटी प्रकल्पांतर्गत वाचनासाठी, गोष्ट सांगण्यासाठी उपलब्ध करून दिले जाते.  

काम करीत असतांनाच्या येणाऱ्या अडचणी:

पुस्तक निवड करण्यात अडचण येते, कारण कोरकू भागातील घटक पुस्तकात असत नाहीत.

काही शब्दांचे अर्थ लवकर समजत नाही, सापडत नाही.

गावात लोकांना विचारून नोंद घेतांना बऱ्याच वेळेस दिवसा लोक उपलब्ध होतात, असे नाही. त्यामुळे रात्री उशिरा पर्यंत किंवा सकाळी एकदम लवकर त्यांच्या वेळा पाहून काम करावे लागते.

गावात शिकलेले लोक त्यात महिला यांचे प्रमाण फार थोड्या प्रमाणात आहे, त्यामुळे रुपांतर करायला मर्यादा येतात. 

तसेच कार्यकर्ते नियमित राहत नाही.

त्यांना भाषांतर, रुपांतर याचे प्रशिक्षण देऊन लगेचच समजत नाही, म्हणून काही दिवस त्यांची समज बनण्यात जातात.

कोरकू भाषा ही दर १० किलो. अंतरावर थोडी बदलते, त्यामुळे एकूण क्षेत्राचा विचार करून रुपांतर करावे लागते. 

कार्यालय हे गावात असल्याने बऱ्याच वेळेस लाईटची अडचण येते.

संगणक कमी असल्याने त्या ठिकाणी मर्यादा येतात.

कार्यकर्त्यांना तांत्रिक माहिती जास्त नसल्याने अडचणी येतात. 

स्तर एकचे एक पुस्तक रुपांतर करायला किमान एक पूर्ण दिवस लागतो. स्तर नुसार कालावधी वाढू शकतो. आणि मनुष्यबळ, तीन कार्यालयातील कार्यकर्ते, आणि गावातील किमान पाच लोक. 

भाषांतर, रुपांतर करणारे युवक युवती :

१. राजकन्या शांतीलाल गवते,  गाव: धोंडा आखर,  तहसील: तेल्हारा,  जि. अकोला, राज्य: महाराष्ट्र 

२.  माया श्रीराम मावस्कर,  गाव: भिली,  तहसील: तेल्हारा,  जि. अकोला,  राज्य:  महाराष्ट्र 

३.  ब्रिजलाल मोतीराम मावस्कर , गाव:  भिली,  तहसील: तेल्हारा, जि. अकोला,  राज्य: महाराष्ट्र 

४.  सुभाष चांदुजी केदार,  गाव: चंदनपुर, तहसील: तेल्हारा, जि. अकोला, राज्य: महाराष्ट्र   

Here's a little  glimpse of the stories Unnati ISEC has translated into Korku on StoryWeaver. Do take a look at all their stories here

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Written by Kirsty Milward, Founder, Suchana Foundation

Settle down for this long read that comes to our blog from Birbhum, West Bengal.

                                       

Suchana set out in 2005 to try to solve the problem of low learning levels among many adivasi primary school–going children in Birbhum, West Bengal. For part of the solution, we quickly settled on the fact that when Santal and Kora children start school they do not understand much of what they are expected to learn to read, because all teaching, and all learning materials are in Bengali.

But trying to introduce first language / mother tongue methods – or even multilingual methods – in our teaching programme was made hugely challenging by the fact that there were no written materials for children in the languages the children spoke. For Kora, there were no written materials full stop.

The 10 Santali and Kora translators

So we began to make materials. For Santali, this meant getting some guidance from organisations who had already been using Bengali script to write Santali, and then inspiring Santali teachers working in Suchana to tap into their creativity and write. For Kora, this meant generating a discussion among community leaders on how words should be written using the Bengali script; it meant young Kora teachers doing research among elders to re-learn disappearing Kora vocabularies; and it meant getting groups of young people together to write songs, rhymes, stories and a simple tri-lingual word book.

But this creative process took time, and coupled with lengthy printing processes with hideous proofing challenges and equally challenging costs, this meant we could collectively only produce three or four small books a year. By 2014, we had produced 15 books. And meanwhile, the children in the education programmes were growing up. Their young years, in which access to first language materials could be such a critical intervention, were running out.

Then in 2015, in a moment of serendipity, Suchana discovered Storyweaver. With a creative commons platform, a torrent of lovely stories graded into reading levels, and beautiful layouts to use, creating a varied, usable, children’s literature in Santali and Kora, suddenly changed from a daunting task to one within our grasp.

The same young team of fifteen Santali and Kora teachers who had been involved in making books from scratch set to work. Most had acquired some technology skills through Suchana’s other programmes in the intervening years. They shared these skills with those who had not; and themselves learned to use the Suchana platform through a mixture of online tutorials, personalized help from the Storyweaver team, and a fair bit of trial and error.

In their first translation marathon, they translated around 50 stories. Teachers chose freely which stories to translate from a pool of Bengali stories available on the platform, which they could translate from easily. With few options for getting their work formally reviewed and checked, they inserted quality control by creating a peer-review system in which they carefully checked each other’s work before stories were published online.   

We had gone from 15 to 65 in about 3 months.

Concerned about how we would ensure that digital stories would reach the hands of children who had very little access to technology, Suchana arranged to print 20 of these stories. Both print and digital stories were then woven into Suchana’s mobile library programme which reaches about 1500 children. Librarians took laptops to remote mobile library villages and showed Santali and Kora digital stories to library members in read-aloud sessions. Children were then free to take home printed stories available in the library stock, where they could read them again, and read with their families.

Children looking at stories on the computer

For many children with emerging literacy, being offered a chance to read stories in their own languages was like a light switching on. Suddenly, text which usually seemed dense and difficult made sense and fitted together. Now, when they were not sure how a particular letter in a word worked, they could make deductions based on their understanding of the likely word being represented to figure out what the letter was doing. Suddenly, it was possible to have meaning fall into the place of decoded text, and the story rise out.

But even 50 stories – about 25 in each language – can get read quite quickly among a multi-age group with library sessions every week. So in 2018, Suchana joined Storyweaver’s Freedom to Read Campaign and the push to 100 stories in each language. Beyond reaching Santali and Kora stories to children through the mobile library membership, Suchana had just begun to work more consistently with local primary schools and ICDS anganwadis on using mother-tongue methods in early years’ classrooms. Most teachers and anganwadi staff teaching adivasi children do not have the luxury of knowing the languages of the children they are charged to teach, and many are acutely aware of the difficulties this presents. So Suchana’s second translation marathon focused partly on producing bilingual books in Santali-Bengali and Kora-Bengali – with a view to enabling willing teachers to help their Santali and Kora students access stories in their own languages too. Watch this space for more information in a few months on how this initiative goes.

This week we crossed 212 stories: just over 100 in Santali; just over 90 in Kora; and 15 stories Suchana had produced from scratch. This feels like a very different place we have arrived at. Several hundred children are now reading a real variety of books in their own languages – from very simple, to more complex ‘Level 4’ books as they progress in their literacy; and books which can help themselves and their teachers transition from their own languages into Bengali, the language of their schools. They read about animals, people, families, friends, trees, maths concepts, science ideas, joy, sadness, and everything in between, in their own languages. The amazing worlds that children’s literature can open up have finally become theirs.

Congratulations for this huge achievement to the Suchana translation team: Bhabini Baski, Churki Hansda, Komola Murmu, Sova Tudu, Lakshman Hembram, Subhadra Murmu, Narayan Hembram, Shanto Kora, Kumkum Kora, Debika Kora, Kalicharan Kora, Rajesh Kora, Pathik Kora, Nobin Kora, Anjana Kora and Krishna Kora.

We have not finished, but Storyweaver has started something, and we are on the way.

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