With there being no signs of schools reopening amid the rising cases of COVID-19 cases, the government is seeking public donations of thousands of books to transform panchayat libraries into learning centres.
This programme is the brainchild of the Department of Rural Development and Panchayat Raj (RDPR). The department said that all donations will be utilized to upgrade 5,622 panchayat libraries in the state into learning centres making it accessible for underprivileged children.
Uma Mahadevan, Principal Secretary, RDPR said that the move is to ensure that ensure that rural children are not left behind in their education. The libraries will be supplied with a range of children books and periodicals and reading programmes will also be organised.
With the growing inequity of education among rural kids, many of them don't have access to e-learning platforms, said Subhankar Chakraborty, State Secretary of the Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti (BGVS), which is partnering with the programme to hold science classes at libraries, said a large number of children were out of school.
"A large number of migrant workers have returned to their home villages. However, because of work loss and the lockdown many do not have the money to spend for their children's education. This is worrisome." he said as reported Deccan Herald.
In the meantime, a pilot survey has begun in Srirangapatna. The RDPR's plan is straightforward- enroll all children aged six to 18 to gram panchayat libraries in their areas with a small deposit paid by the panchayat.
"This will give the children access to the library which will also be upgraded to access digital libraries maintained by the government plus other online content," Mahadevan said. In the interim, thousands of books are required. The target, according to Manasa Rao, a consultant with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is about 50,000. According to her, the main objective is to procure gently used or new books.
On being asked how rural children can potentially cope with books in English, Mahadevan added that trained librarians will be appointed at every library to assist. With this initiative, many children will be taking home a book for the first time in their lives. It is expected to be continued even after the pandemic situation ends.