Come Sunday, everyone in the city will have an opportunity to make a small contribution to a cause requiring a large amount of effort – educating children from underprivileged sections.
The Hindu presents ‘Aviva Great Wall of Education', a book collection drive that seeks to source as many books as possible for children and raise the general awareness about the several million children who do not have access to schools.
The initiative will be launched at the Express Avenue Mall, Royapettah, on September 5 and go on till September 9. Anyone who wishes to donate books for children could come to the venue and place their books on the ‘wall' to be set up at the venue.
Books are also to be collected by placing drop boxes at different schools and other venues in the city.
T.R. Ramachandran, CEO and MD, Aviva India, said the book collection drive is to help underprivileged children get access to education. “The overall brand promise of Aviva is that education is insurance. We have been adopting the ‘Street to School' initiative to recognise the right that every child has to education,” he said.
Contributions could come as textbooks for children in the elementary school-going age group, or children's story books, colouring books or activity books. Such books will be distributed at schools, with the help of the State's Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan wing, and non-governmental organisations Save
The Children and Vidyarambam Trust. Landmark and Chennai Live are partnering in the initiative.
N. Ram, Editor-in-Chief, The Hindu, said that India had many achievements to its credit, but we cannot be proud of our record in basic education.
Observing that millions of children get missed out or fall through the net due to the absence of a proper system, he said: “Now we are talking about the Right To Education. That is at the formal level, the constitutional level. But at the practical level I think you need to bring in people who are outside this whole project of education.”
One of the imaginative ways of doing this would be to engage children with books and get them onto the habit of reading. “You've got to go out there and collect books from a variety of sources, we have to weed them out, and take what is useful and valuable and distribute it through schools to children who do not have access to it,” Mr. Ram said.
Other books, which are not usable or relevant to children, such as novels, old magazines, could also be donated. “We will have those recycled and made into drawing books or notebooks for children,” Mr. Ramachandran added.
“This is a small thing, but I think it has tremendous potential because you have a wall, like the Great Wall of China. This is not a wall that stops anyone from coming in, but it really symbolises the huge work that needs to be done - the monumental work that we have missed doing since Independence. That is one interpretation for what the wall stands for,” Mr. Ram said.
The entire exercise of collection, segregation, recycling and disbursal will be completed in 30 days.
Mr. Ramachandran said the association with The Hindu, and The Hindu's association with schools in the city would help collect a huge number of books.