250 Million Children are Still at Home, but Learning Shouldn’t Stop

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Room to Read‘s flagship learning campaign #MainJahanSeekhnaWahan where #IndiaGetsReadingAtHome launched on 15th August, spread awareness, and motivated parents and children to participate in the learning activities at home nationwide. The campaign culminated on 8th September, International Literacy Day, with a webinar ‘Learning in the New Normal: Multiple Ecosystems‘ resonating with people from all walks of life from across the world. All the participants, including experts, academicians, practitioners, and influencers, were brought together to discuss and share their actionable insights on multiple learning ecosystems – Home, Schools, and Community.


Camel Cart Library


Throughout the campaign, key offline and online activities included government and community activations, Virtual Delhi Book Fair 2021, Launch of Library content on ‘Nalanda at Home’ WhatsApp Chatbot in Maharashtra state, Wall murals/paintings, Community meetings, Literacy Kit distribution, Posters, and handouts distribution, Mobile Van Library Events (Camel Cart Library, Bullock Cart Library, Boat Library, etc.), Reading together with family (Pledge Reading Time), and T.V. episodes.


Each state-wide campaign included state-of-the-art initiatives that received applause from the state governments, local and school communities. The initiatives include:


  • Room to Read (RtR), in collaboration with the Government of Chhattisgarh, launched a Mobile Bullock Cart Library. This initiative resulted in engagement with their younger siblings and community children to encourage reading habits.

  • Room to Read established ten community libraries in nearby schools in New Delhi Satimata basti camp Jonapur village, P.G camp CPW Vasant Vihar, Indra Kalyan Vihar Okhla-Phase1, Sagarpur old slum, Basti Safdarjung enclave, Basti Smaypur Badli, Basti Shriram JJ camp, Community Centre Arjan Nagar, Subhash Park Ambedkar Nagar, and Aya Nagar community centre.

  • Three mobile library vans were flagged off by the district magistrate Mr. Shivraj Singh Verma (IAS), in Madhya Pradesh, reaching 150 villages from 15th August 2021 to 8th September 2021.

  • TheNalanda at Homebot, a WhatsApp chatbot, was jointly launched on 5th September, Teachers’ Day in the Nashik district of Maharashtra, with support from Motivation for Excellence, Room to Read, and the Nalanda Project in honor of the driven teachers ensuring that Learning endures for all their students.

  • Launch of Camel Cart Library and Mobile Library Van flagged off by the additional district magistrate Mr. Madan Lal Nehra and Chief District Education Officer Mr. Bhalluram Khichad reaching more than 30 villages across the state.

  • In Uttarakhand, the airing of jingles based on NIPUN Bharat and Story-based 24 radio episodes of “Kuch Kisse Kuch Kahani” were broadcasted through community radio stations in collaboration with SAMAGRA (Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan) during the campaign. 

  • In Uttar Pradesh, Room to Read launched a unique boat library, and two mobile library vans were flagged off on 18th August by the Director Basic Education & SCERT, Uttar Pradesh Mr. Sarvendra Vikram Bahadur Singh in Lucknow district and on 28th August by the District Education Officer, Mr. Rakesh Singh in district Varanasi. ‘Boat Library‘ was designed to reach the unreachable children residing in riverside slums and fishing communities in Lucknow and Varanasi districts.


At the end of the campaign, the webinar organized on International Literacy Day on 8th September ’21 – ‘Learning in the New Normal: Multiple Ecosystems‘ was graced by the presence of –


  • Dr. Tami Katzir Cohen, Head of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Brain and Learning Disabilities, Head of the Language and Literacy program, Haifa University

  • Madhav Chavan, Founder, Pratham

  • Heather Simpson, Chief of Programs, Room to Read

  • Meenal Sarda, Associate Director – Literacy, Room to Read

  • Sourav Banerjee, Country Director, Room to Read India

  • Sheshagiri Madhusudan, Education Specialist, UNICEF

  • Usha Menon, Co-founder, Jodo Gyan; and

  • Shailendra Sharma, Principal Advisor, Govt. of NCT Delhi


As emissaries of Foundational Literacy, all the international participants explored how to reach beyond and focus on all aspects of the larger ecosystem contributing to a child’s overall development to ensure that Learning beats all odds and continues.


Dr. Tami Cotzen emphasized, “From neurons to narratives: The mind and education can be stimulated by teachers and parents. We need to train them on how to have positive interactions with the young learners. We must focus on the emotional, cognitive landscape as the basis of Comprehension.”


Ms. Heather Simpson, Chief of Programs, Room to Read, said, “Literacy and books can support students’ socio-emotional well-being. Fictional stories present relevant scenarios that help children understand and deal with emotions. They can help build relationships and safety networks for children.”


Dr. Madhav Chavan, Founder, Pratham Foundation, said, “The first thing to do during the pandemic is to stabilize children’s Learning in the face of widespread loss of life in and around their families. We need to engage children through relatable and fun activities, and literature can lead to effective Learning.”


Sourav Banerjee, Country Director, Room to Read India, said, “In the new normal, Learning is multi-faceted, with focus on resources across all mediums. Recent experiences in the field show that offline resources definitely are more effective in promoting Learning in early grade children. Home and communities have emerged as necessary spaces of learning today.”


Shailendra Sharma, Principal Advisor, Govt. of NCT Delhi, said, “It is important to bring learnings from the past into exploring solutions for today. Digital resources may not be the answer. We need to explore offline resources to ensure Learning in the current times.”


About Room to Read India

Room to Read India was established in 2003 and presently has programs in 9 states – Chhattisgarh, Delhi NCR, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Telangana, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh. Our Literacy Program has been implemented in 15,642 government schools, training 25,741 teachers trained in library management and reading activities. Over the same period, our Girls’ Education & Gender Equality Program has benefitted over 71,626 girls. Till date, we have benefitted 4.7 million children, distributed ten crores of age-appropriate storybooks, and set up more than 10,000 libraries in government schools.


Room to Read is a global organization transforming the lives of millions of children in low-income communities by focusing on Literacy and gender equality in education. Founded in 2000 on the belief that World Change Starts with Educated ChildrenĀ®, our innovative model focuses on deep, systemic transformation within schools during two time periods that are most critical in a child’s schooling: early primary school for literacy acquisition and secondary school for girls’ education. We work in collaboration with local communities, partner organizations, and governments to develop literacy skills and a habit of reading among primary school children and ensure girls can complete secondary school with the skills necessary to negotiate key life decisions. By focusing on the quality of education provided within the communities and ensuring these outcomes are measured, we have created a model that can be replicated, localized, and sustained by governments. With its, global headquarters in San Francisco, Room to Read has benefited 23 million children across over 30,000 communities in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Grenada, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, Rwanda, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Vietnam, and Zambia.


Website: www.roomtoread.org/countries/india


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