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Alphabet learning gets a new address

Ganesh Prabhu
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Philatelist Krishnayya uses stamps to teach letters

An exhibition sheet of philatelist M.K. Krishnayya displaying stamps, Kannada alphabets and words with meaning.
An exhibition sheet of philatelist M.K. Krishnayya displaying stamps, Kannada alphabets and words with meaning.

Can stamps be used to help learn Kannada alphabets? Yes, if you happened to go through the collection of philatelist M.K. Krishnayya.

Mr. Krishnayya, president of the Dakshina Kannada Philatelic and Numismatic Association, and who has been collecting stamps for the last 52 years, has 132 stamps from 35 countries, which help in learning Kannada alphabets.

Kannada is one of the oldest languages of the country. Kannada has a total of 51 alphabets but only 49 alphabets are used now.

“A child learns alphabets by identifying objects with it. This makes learning of alphabets easier for the child,” said Mr. Krishnayya, who also works as a curator of Corporation Bank Heritage (Numismatic) Museum in Udupi.

Each Kannada alphabet in his collection is accompanied with a word explaining it in Kannada with its English equivalent.

But more importantly, there are stamps pasted close to the alphabets which carry objects explaining the word. For instance, ‘A’ – ‘Arasa’ – King, there are five stamps carrying pictures of a king beside it. Or ‘Aa’ – ‘Aane’ – Elephant, there are three stamps containing pictures of elephants.

Mr. Krishnayya came upon this idea about 10 to 12 years ago, when he was visiting a school to propagate philately. “I found that it would be easier for the students to identify objects in the stamps with the alphabets. Hence I thought of this scheme,” he said.

Children get easily attracted to stamps and the wonderful pictures on them. “Besides identifying the objects, it increases their curiosity and also prompts them to collect stamps. This automatically develops the hobby of philately in them,” he said.

But it took about a year-and-a-half for Mr. Krishnayya to collect the stamps which could be used along with Kannada alphabets. He has exhibited them in several schools.

“Wherever I have displayed it, the children have loved them, while elders have appreciated it,” he said.

It is not just in Kannada alone, Mr. Krishnayya has such a collection of stamps for English, Hindi and Telugu alphabets. He is presently attempting to collect stamps for Malayalam alphabets as well.

“This kind of stamp collection helps children in their education, it can also kindle their interest in birds, animals and other countries,” Mr. Krishnayya said.

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