Children attending public schools are often found to be incapable of reading and writing to a level which is appropriate to their age. The daunting challenge before the state government is how to improve reading and writing competency of children attending public schools.

CARE is implementing Kanya Sampurna Project (KSP) in partnership with Titan Company Limited. One of the project goals is to improve oral reading competency of children attending primary schools in Cuddalore district of Tamil Nadu state. The initial assessment revealed that about 10% of children were able to read fluently and write a few sentences on their own and over 70% of households have no access to books other than school books. A majority of the parents were unable to read and write hence the children don’t have a reading model to emulate,  most of the families lack resources to purchase books, and the social barriers in accessing rural libraries further dissuade socially marginalized communities.

To increase marginalized children access to libraries, the project has supported the communities in setting up a community library in 60 Villages and 1650 girls are registered themselves as members of a community library. The members of the group meet once in a month and discuss health, gender, and career issues. In order to popularize community library activities in the village and increase membership  base the project organized community-level events to commemorate World Book Day.

The event was organized to sensitize the children and community on the importance of reading, books, and awareness about why reading is essential and how it leads to changes at an individual level.  The event also focused on how to make reading as a habit. The theme for the World Book Day 2019 is “Share a Story, hence the during the event members of libraries were shared their favorite stories like “Panchatantra Stories”, “Thenali Raman”, etc. Further, during the event,  the children were asked to hand print their palms and write their names and their favourite books in a cloth banner.

Community members attended the event, appreciated their children for narrating the story they have read and what they have learned from the story.  ,Encouraged by the children response, in 12 communities the elders donated books worth of Rs. 5000.

It’s a small step taken towards improving reading competency of the children from resource-constrained background. Madhavi, a girl from Kandamangalam  village  said that she had begun to read books with interest earlier she was not interested to read books, as she was reading only  for exams but now she had begun to read books of  her interest,  and she proudly declared, she had begun to read her subject books with more confidence and understanding words better. This is what the project is expecting make reading as a habit of interest including school books after all, learning is always fun.

K. Umadevi