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A library cum classroom helps children read, learn and play better

Story

By Chandrika Patnaik

25 July 2022

A library with informative books helps children develop reading habits and learn better in Jangyashala village.

Children from Jangyashala village are exploring different type of books at the library cum classroom.

Photograph by Stuti Mankodi

Jangyashala village, with 111 households, is in the Chhatarpur block of the Ganjam district. Gram Vikas has been a long-standing partner in undertaking the building of toilets and bathing rooms in the village and putting in place a community-run piped water system in 2008.

Stuti Mankodi, an SBI Youth for India Fellow, decided to inculcate the habit of reading amongst the children of Jangyashala. She set up a library cum classroom in the village with the support of DESMA India. Stuti says, “The existing library in the Jangyashala Primary School did not have books which would encourage children to study and help them develop a reading habit.” 

In 2020, due to the COVID-19 lockdown, schools had shut down indefinitely in the state forcing children to attend classes virtually. In rural areas, children were left behind due to the unavailability of digital learning resources. They were more inclined to study in classrooms. In the absence of schools, parents sent their children for tuition in the village, where classes took place in small cramped spaces inside a house. 

Seventy-nine children in Jangyashala are in the 6-14 age group. A lack of guidance from elders at home or easy access to information further compounded the disadvantages of not being able to attend school. 

Stuti felt children required an open, lively, vibrant place with a sound lighting system, a fan, and books. After the second wave of COVID-19, with schools continuing to remain shut, Stuti renovated a room belonging to the village committee. She converted it into a library where children can read books of interest, interact and play.

She sought the support of the Village Development Committee (VDC) of Jangyashala and the teachers who helped the children with their lessons during the indefinite shutdown. The VDC agreed to let out one of the rooms on its premises and convert it into a library cum classroom. The committee got new electrical fixtures for the room at the cost of ₹8000 and resumed the electricity supply.

DESMA India granted ₹3,00,000 from its CSR funds to set up the library. The funds made it possible to procure new furniture like an almirah, five chairs, 20 mini tables, and 20 mats. Pratham gave fifty sets of 100 books each for the library in Jangyashala village and other villages in Gram Vikas’ operational areas in the Ganjam and Keonjhar districts. Goonj generously donated 1000 books.

P. Shivram Reddy, 38, President of Jangyashala VDC, feels the library cum classroom is good for the children. “I am not surprised that children enjoy coming here. It’s a large, airy, clean room far better than the cramped spaces they used to study in earlier.” Members from the village committee and parents take turns in cleaning the room. The library continues to attract children who visit to use the books, play with the games available, and study.

B. Jitendra Reddy, 20, who has been taking tuition classes for children up to the 5th grade in the facility since it came up in September 2021, thinks that children are eager to study in the space. “What makes the room different from other places is more space, cleanliness, and bright lights. It helps them to read and focus. After the classes get over, I pull out story books from the shelf and read them aloud. Children enjoy listening to the stories and practising reading. It’s also helping me practice and improve my English language skills.” 

B. Anita Patra, 11, is a Class 6 student and a regular at the library cum classroom. She thinks the space available in the library helps her focus better. “Also, after classes, sir gives us time to read stories from the books kept in the library. I learn so much from these interesting books.”

Stuti also pitched in to support the children to read, played fun games with them like Pictionary and Hangman, and prepared a book register to keep track of the books and the people who borrowed. She canvassed the tuition teachers in the village to conduct reading and play sessions before or after the tuition classes. 

Today the library has at least twenty students regularly visiting to play and read.  

B. Jitendra Reddy is taking tuition classes for the children of Jangyashala village.

Photograph by Stuti Mankodi

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Stuti Mankodi was an SBI YFI Fellow with Gram Vikas from September 2020 to August 2021. She initiated the children’s library in Jangyashala village. Priya Pillai edited the story.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chandrika Patnaik leads content production within the Communications team in Gram Vikas.

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