What Being Able To Read Means For 150 Million Indian Children Like Me

Posted by KathaIndia in Education
August 22, 2017

By Shehzadi:

Today’s learning needs innovation and collaboration. According to a UNESCO report, India can achieve its goal of universal reading only by 2050. Reading leads to a holistic growth of a child, yet 150 million children across India don’t know how to read. Of India’s urban population, 17% live in slums and do not get an opportunity to go to school. At a time when a child’s mind grows furiously, we do not get enough opportunities to develop our mind and become innovative. Instead, we are denied of choices to even dream about our potential. We have no choice but to become a gardener, watchman or whatever our father did. But we want to dream about starting our own company or becoming an actor. For this, we deserve the choice to do what we want.

I have been studying at Katha Lab School in Delhi where we are empowered to dream about our ambitions and explore our strengths. All this is possible because we enjoy reading, learning and hence experience the growth any other child is able to.

But to help the 150 million children across the country, we need collective efforts of everyone and not just one person or an NGO. We need support from corporates, NGOs, government, youth, students and forums to come together and attain this goal. Reading is a catalyst in this journey of learning, and also impacts an individual in everyday activities such as even being able to read the expiry date of medicines!

The human brain has the power to remember a million books but that’s possible only if we are able to read books. Without education, we cannot participate in debates, be informed, and participate in India’s development. A larger burden is on girls like me, who are often denied opportunities to learn because they are not expected to be independent. There is a need to change this thinking and take India on the road to growth. To be educated, we need to be able to read. For Indian society, the sad part is that despite having the infrastructure such as schools and teachers, many children can’t read. That’s because the focus is not on reading.

Gyaan (knowledge) is a small word but has a big meaning. Unfortunately, many challenges come in the way of being able to share gyaan with children. Poverty for one, takes away opportunities to learn and to be educated for many children. In a country where everyone deserves to learn and study, a large number of girls in India leave their education in primary school due to family pressure, mental stress and physical incapability. Even though the Government has stressed on “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao”, the facilities of government schools are accessible selectively and often children are excluded due to their caste. The teacher to student ratio is also awful.

It is important that everyone comes together to provide better learning and education initiatives which appeal to the masses and are also cost effective. Indian population is so large that children are forced to work and earn income, and not encouraged to think, dream and follow their passion. Hence, either the children quit school or stay in same class for a long time. I often wonder if there is a more interesting way to learn and educate because there is a need to innovate.

At Katha Lab School, a lot of volunteers come to teach us. This helps to ensure that children like me continue to be curious about everything around them.

Through this article, I urge and request all of you to become a lever of change and help children like me enjoy reading. Please join the movement called 300M Challenge which “Katha”, “Teach For India”, “SEWA”, “CRY” and many more NGOs have launched to bring the joy of reading to children.

Today, because of these opportunities, I am able to dream and enjoy learning. And I believe every child like me, should have the same choice as well.

You can read more about the initiative on Katha’s official website