Libraries in some schools are often a namesake room designated for the purpose, with students hardly ever having any incentive to visit these.
But, the Thiruvananthapuram district panchayat has ensured that a library relevant to the students would be set up in each classroom in all public schools under it. Over the past six months, it has set up classroom libraries in all of the 10,681 classrooms across the 958 government and aided schools in the district, becoming the first district panchayat in the State to achieve this.
The project began around six months ago as part of the General Education Protection Mission of the State government. The Kerala State Library Council, school Parent-Teacher Association, alumni associations and above all, the students, became part of a grassroots-level movement to collect books to set up such a large number of libraries.
One campaign was titled ‘Pusthaka vandi’, wherein students and teachers from schools would go around the locality in a vehicle, visit houses and request books. Other campaigns included ‘a book on the birthday’, with students contributing books on their birthdays. The district panchayat too organised a book collection campaign. One school managed to collect as many as 20,000 books.
“We started with the aim of collecting 5 lakh books. We ended up collecting more than 8 lakh books. This is a major achievement, thanks to the participation of the public,” says V.K. Madhu, president of the Thiruvananthapuram district panchayat.
The panchayat has provided ₹1,000 for each classroom for setting up bookshelves. This was the first time that a district panchayat was providing such funds to aided schools too. Teachers and students have been trained in running the libraries. From each class, two librarians, one boy and a girl, have been selected. They would issue the books, using the stock register and the distribution register.
At least a 100 books
“Each class will have a minimum of hundred books, including reference books related to their syllabus as well as fiction and other books. Each student is supposed to read one book each week. They have to write short notes on each book they read in a notebook. One period per week is set aside to share these readings. Soon, we will be launching reading festivals at the class, school, panchayat and district levels,” says S. Javad, district coordinator of the General Education Protection Mission.
The aim of the project is not just to inculcate reading habit in students, but also to contribute to their all-round development as individuals with independent opinions. The State government has decided to take this project to the next level, by allocating funds to set up classroom libraries across all public schools in Kerala.