Freedom to Read 2019: Hyperlocal libraries just a click away!

Posted by Pallavi Krishnan on February 19, 2019

Written by Priyanka Sivaramakrishnan

StoryWeaver’s  Freedom to Read 2019 is our flagship annual campaign to mark the International Mother Language Day on February 21st. We have been collaborating with some fantastic translators, educators and literacy organisations across the world to bring to you digital hyperlocal libraries across underserved languages.

 

When we opened up the event in November 2018, we had a rush of applications, partners who were more than eager to collaborate with us on this exciting project. We received an overwhelming 200+ applications from 36 organisations and 196 individuals, representing translation partners and individual language champions from not just across India, but also international literacy organisations and individual language champions. Our final selection boiled down to 11 organisations and 8 individuals to help build hyperlocal digital libraries across 30 languages.

With the help of these partners, we targeted 14 underserved languages such as Korku, Marwari, Basa Jawa (Javanese), Bundelkhandi, Pawari, Santaki, Kora, Pashto, Farsi, Chinyanja, Ewe and more.

Since the storybooks created on the platform will be used in classrooms to retain students' interests and preserve local culture and language, we worked closely with the partners to help them curate lists.These curated lists were entirely based on the need of the partner to fill in the gaps. For instance, Agnes N.S. Nyendwa, Editor of Macmillan Publishers, Zambia wanted to make STEM concepts easier to understand, by versioning them to her mother tongue, Chinyanja. The North East Educational Trust (NEET), Assam, India worked towards translating joyful Assamese stories for early readers because there was a lack of material in this category. Afghanistan based Darakht-e-Danesh (DD Library) wanted to translate stories that could be localised to Afghanistan and the social reality of the land. Right To Play is working with a story list that is a cultural fit for Africa and are keen to get the books printed via our publisher partner, BookDash.

To begin the process, we first had to get our partners familiar with the the StoryWeaver platform. Support materials such as the Pratham Books translation manual, tips on translating, FAQ's, and video resources on how to use StoryWeaver as a translating tool were given to the partners. During the training, we reinforced the need for peer to peer review workflows as it is essential to ensure good quality content at such high volumes and also shared our in-house playbook (a ready reckoner of sorts for hackathons) as a resource to partners who were working with teams across geographies with scaled resources to help them conduct hackathons. This was used by African Library & Information Associations & Institutions (AfLIA) to conduct multiple translation hackathons with their teams in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda and South Africa.

We absolutely have to give it to our translation partners for knocking it out of the park, with the lengths they took to make sure that not only books got translated, but more importantly, got published.

They faced many challenges, the biggest of them all being able to complete the project despite not having all the resources. Since we’ve been working with underserved languages from remote locations, our translators were not necessarily the same people who were coming up on the StoryWeaver platform and publishing the same. This led to a lot of searching for support systems. In these cases, most of the translations were pen to paper which would then get passed on to their resource in a town or city with access to computers, where the newly translated stories were uploaded.

Keep watching this space for more news, final roundups and achievements of Freedom to Read, 2019.

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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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