A room crammed with hundreds of books may not be an unusual sight in a library. But on close observation, you will see they are not literary works or journals but old textbooks and other study materials. Bappuji Smaraka Vayanasala, a library at Perumkulam in Kollam, has been collecting them for the last one month for distribution among tribal students across the State.
“While all students from Class I-VIII get free textbooks, most tribal students in higher classes skip textbook purchase as their families cannot afford it. I work as the principal of a higher secondary school at Kisumam in Pathanamthitta district. When I joined there last October, none of the tribal students had textbooks even after months into the academic year. When I contacted my colleagues in other districts, I found the story was similar in most schools. So the library started this initiative to make books available to all tribal children,” says V. Vijesh, secretary of the library.
The library has received over 5,000 books, even as heavy packages continue arriving. The collection will continue till the end of May and then the books will be sorted and sent to districts with high tribal population that include Wayanad, Idukki and Palakkad. P.S. Sreekumari, headmistress of Government Upper Primary School, Pennukara, Alappuzha, had sourced around 500 textbooks from her former students.
“Many of us had no idea that the students in tribal areas have been managing without textbooks. When I told my students about the initiative, they started bringing in textbooks, notes and guides. After the library requested for more, we started a fresh collection,” she says.
The library contacted the students through social networking platforms and school groups. “We have a contact person in every district who collect the books and despatch them to us. We thought these could be transported from various districts to Kottarakara on KSRTC buses, but the authorities were not very keen,” says Vijesh.
Though they started collecting books immediately after the exams, they fear the quantity may not be sufficient.
“We are doubtful if it will be enough for all tribal students who need textbooks as their number is not small. After school reopening, we will contact the schools for the exact number and the books will be delivered to them within two weeks,” says Mr. Vijesh.