Getting bookish in Baggilipalli, and other distant places

Posted by Remya Padmadas on September 27, 2016

Joeanna Rebello writes about how free libraries are making readers of children in small towns and villages for The Times of India. She also mentions StoryWeaver and our Freedom to Read campaign, and highlights the work being done by our outreach partner the Agastya International Foundation and community member Tenzin Dhargyal. 

"For Subramanya Shastri, project manager at Agastya International Foundation which has established libraries in 70 villages in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, the goal is to get children to first read and write fluently in their mother tongue before progressing to other languages. "Each library has 150 to 200 books for grades three to ten, in three to four languages based on the local demographic," says Shastri. Unfortunately, books written in regional languages are limited, and translations (from dominant languages) are few he observes.

It's a problem that seems to have found one solution at least. Last September on World Literacy Day, Pratham Books, the not-for-profit children's publisher, launched an open-source online platform making available 800 stories in 24 languages, including 20 STEM titles.

The platform, Story Weaver, provides tools to enable readers to translate stories in different languages and scripts, and even rewrite available stories for higher or lower reading levels. It now has over 2,000 stories in 51 languages including Tibetan, Sanskrit, Banjara and Gondi. Their most recent campaign, Freedom to Read, launched this World Literacy Day on September 8, Pratham Books pledges to add 15 new languages to the list.

A few months ago, Tenzin Dhargyal, an English teacher at the Tibetan Children's Village School in Suja, Himachal Pradesh, started translating Story Weaver's works in Tibetan. "Most of the books donated to us are in English," he says. To encourage reading in their mother tongue, and supplement the stock of 33 books he and his colleagues have translated on Story Weaver, Dhargyal plans to assign older school children with 'translation' homework."

You can read the rest of the article here.