Published: 24th January 2021
Book drives, free library memberships: How these government officials are making sure that more rural Karantaka children read books
We must spread knowledge by donating books to rural kids, believes Priyanka Mary Francis. Rashmi Patil speaks to the Commissioner of Panchayat Raj to know more about their book collection drive
When I saw pictures of children holding a huge gunny bag and going door to door collecting books, I wondered what it was for. To my surprise, I learnt that the kids are a part of the book collection initiative Pustaka Jolige. And the response from contributors has been equally overwhelming, says Priyanka Mary Francis who is the Commissioner, Panchayat Raj, Udupi. She explains, "Though there is a pandemic looming over us all, the Department of Rural Development and Panchayat Raj (RDPR) has launched several initiatives. One among these is the child-friendly Gram Panchayat Abhiyan that was started on November 14, 2020 and will go on till February 28, 2021. As part of this campaign, a circular has been issued to Gram Panchayats across Karnataka to take up child-centric initiatives."
According to the RDPR and Priyanka, it is the libraries in rural areas that need rejuvenation. So, they decided to make children between 6 to 18 years members of the libraries for free and involve them in all the activities. Also, a separate children's section has been envisaged in libraries present in 5,622 Gram Panchayats. Priyanka adds, "Around 6,76,866 children have been enrolled in GP libraries during this campaign so far. While there are books for adults and senior citizens, fewer books are available for children, thus giving rise to the Pustaka Jolige initiative, which translates to Bag of Books. There are teams formed by the officials and children are a part of it. The teams go door to door requesting the public to donate books that are child-friendly and so far, we have collected over thousands of books."
Not just collecting books, the team is going around the village in their library bus lending books to their littlest members and in turn, asking them or their neighbours to donate more books. If you think that the initiatives stop with collecting books alone, then you are wrong. Priyanka says, "We have another initiative called Oduva Belaku. Under this initiative, children read the books that are in the library, make notes from the book and discuss it in the classroom individually. The data on the total number of books collected is yet to be consolidated and it will happen once the Abhiyan ends across the state."