The CBSE has partnered with StoryWeaver of Pratham Books for a two-year initiative to increase students’ reading ability. Himanshu Giri, CEO of Pratham Books, Tells PrintWeek’s Dibyajyoti Sarma Why It’s a Good Idea
The Central Council for Secondary Education (CBSE) announced on September 20 – the CBSE Reading Mission, a two-year initiative to increase students’ reading ability. As part of this mission, the CBSE will provide quality reading material in Hindi and English to more than 25,000 affiliated schools. The reading material will be adapted to pupils of classes I to VIII. CBSE will partner with StoryWeaver from Pratham Books and the Central Square Foundation to launch the mission.
The board said it will offer a number of student enrichment activities focused on language strengthening during this mission to improve students’ reading skills. In line with NEP 2020 recommendations, as part of this mission, schools and teachers will have access to a repository of children’s story books in English and Hindi and additional resources. In addition to this, the CBSE would extend the CBSE Reading Challenge (English and Hindi), currently held for students in classes VIII-X to students in classes VI-VII.
The mission will help build a culture of reading and healthy student development by improving their vocabulary, making connections between stories and their own lives, and exposing them to new ideas. In an exclusive interview, Himanshu Giri, CEO of Pratham Books, shares the details.
What is the precise role of Pratham Books in this project?
The Reading Mission will impact young learners in the network of 25,000 CBSE schools, including Kendriya Vidyalayas, Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas, Central Tibetan schools, schools run / supported by state governments and private schools. independent.
The objective of the CBSE Reading Mission is to promote reading habits among students by setting up a structured reading framework for schools. As part of this mission, which is in line with the recommendations of the National Education Policy (2020) and the NIPUN Bharat guidelines, CBSE schools and teachers will have access to a large repository of children’s story books in English. and in high-quality, open-licensed Hindi and additional resources for grades I-VIII through the Pratham Books reading program. These resources, which can be read for free, will be available in English and Hindi on Pratham Books’ open source digital platform, StoryWeaver (storyweaver.org.in). StoryWeaver will support the Reading Mission by providing teachers with training materials and hosting engaging virtual reading sessions and activities through periodic interactions with Teacher Connect where teachers can share best practices, showcase their work, and share contributions. on program design.
How will children achieve arithmetic and literacy in class III?
The mission focuses on children’s reading acquisition and is not directly linked to numeracy and literacy goals. At Pratham Books, we believe that reading is the cornerstone of basic literacy and that in order for children to become readers they must have access to storybooks in the languages ââthey speak and learn. Language supports the cognitive processes necessary for learning. When children read in a language they speak and understand well, they learn more, are in a better position to learn other languages, are more likely to stay in school, and have a school experience that is culturally and culturally appropriate. local circumstances. The genesis of the CBSE reading mission is based on this fundamental conviction.
Additionally, our storybooks are categorized based on reading levels rather than age, based on reading skills (emerging, early, independent, fluent readers). This encourages children to read without being judgmental. We do not prescribe age groups for our storybooks, because our catalog is vast and multilingual.
What is the methodology of this project?
Regarding the CBSE Reading Mission delivery method, the Reading Framework is disseminated to teachers in CBSE schools through the Pratham Book Reading Program, a free and easy-to-use guide with books and materials. activities organized for six months for classes. I to VIII. Each month, teachers can access a new theme, through this structured curriculum, which has 36 storybooks from Pratham Books in its curriculum. Storybooks are grouped into grade-appropriate themes and introduce a variety of topics, and each storybook comes with engaging activities to grab children’s attention.
The program can also be used offline through StoryWeaver’s offline library, keeping in mind the digital divide that continues to exist in India.
How essential are printed books to improving the quality of education in India?
While digital literacy has opened the doors to new possibilities, especially in the wake of the Covid pandemic and school closings, nothing can quite replace the magic of a storybook printed in the hands of ‘a child. In particular a child from an underserved community who has never had access to a storybook in their mother tongue. We have worked hard to bring our storybooks to the last mile of underserved children, especially in marginalized languages ââwhich are traditionally spoken languages.
The creation of storybooks in these languages ââhas, in many ways, brought stories to life for the next generation of children in these communities, opening windows to new worlds for them through storybooks in their own right. mother tongue.
What is Pratham Books StoryWeaver?
As a non-profit publisher, Pratham Books has created a new paradigm in multilingual publishing – a low cost, high volume model that has distributed over 30 million story books and story cards. to children across India. Yet, with 200 million children in the elementary school age group, one of the questions we kept coming back to was: how can we continue to bring books to children in a sustainable and scalable way to accelerate progress towards sustainable development United Nations Goal (SDG) 4 – Quality education for all? So in 2015, we did something very unconventional for any publisher: We decided to take advantage of open licensing and technology to tackle the terrible problem of knowledge inequity. We created StoryWeaver, a digital platform designed at scale, to tackle the shortage of children’s books with a new approach to book creation and distribution.
How does it help with literacy?
At its core, StoryWeaver is a repository of high-quality, open-licensed, multilingual storybooks. Everybook is available for free in several formats. They can be read online and, given the digital divide, can also be read offline, downloaded, printed and even reused.
StoryWeaver also hosts content from other global publishers. Translation tools on the platform help customize books for localized needs and an image bank of over 54,000 images allows users to create new books. These resources also become available to other users, creating a multiplier effect and amplifying the impact.
StoryWeaver was launched with 800 books in 24 languages ââin 2015. By creating a participatory framework, we distributed the ability to solve the challenge of children’s book scarcity. This has extended StoryWeaver’s repository to over 38,000 books in 300 languages ââwith an online readership of over 13 million in just six years.
Today, StoryWeaver is a platform built on networks made up of all the key players working on children’s literacy: governments, educators, librarians, NGO partners, parents and of course, children.
Pratham Books works with public and private institutions. This project benefits CBSE schools. What happens to underfunded and understaffed public schools? Is there a project for this section?
We have several partnerships underway and more in the works to reach the last mile child, a goal that has become even more important after the pandemic. The Covid-19 pandemic prompted us to innovate and do some soul-searching, as schools closed and the digital divide widened. Missed call, Kahaani Suno! was a campaign we ran last year in phases, where kids could listen to hundreds of delicious audio stories in English, Hindi, Marathi and Kannada for free, even using a basic phone. We have done a lot of work over 17 years to make our storybooks available and accessible to children in many languages ââand formats, both online and offline.
FIVE BOOKS OF PRATHAM THAT EVERYBODY NEEDS TO KNOW
Satrangi Ladkiyan aur Ladke written by Kamla Bhasin and illustrated by Priya Kuriyan; Your body is yours written by Yamini Vijayan and illustrated by Aindri C; Ikru’s first day of schooll, a wordless picture book by Sunaina Coelho; In the subway, a Big Book written by Neha Singh and illustrated by Rai; and I wish.
How can the book printing industry and the paper industry in India contribute to this project?
As we continue to strive to share the joy of reading with children around the world and build a Reading India, we maintain our USP as a non-profit children’s book publisher to keep our books d stories at an affordable price. To that end, we don’t make a profit from the sale of our books and are always finding new ways to get our printed storybooks to as many children as possible.
The rising costs of paper and printing have hampered our work significantly, especially after the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, and while we understand that every industry has been affected by the economic downturn, it would help us greatly. in our mission to work. with suppliers who can reduce our printing costs, so that we can continue to provide every child with the pleasure of reading. Despite all the challenges posed by the pandemic, we do not want to compromise on the quality of our storybooks, which have brought joy to the lives of millions of children across India.
StoryWeaver’s Repository of Over 38,000 Books to Promote Reading Literacy