A city school has opened its libraries for children from underprivileged homes, many of whom have no access to books.
Mahadevi Birla World Academy started the reading initiative about a month back and children of the school are either reading with or reading out to students from different NGOs.
The practice is not just for the benefit of the NGO children who do not have a reading atmosphere at home but also for the school’s students who have the opportunity but not the inclination to read, teachers said.
It helps children from financially deprived families “to break the psychological barrier” that separates them from the more privileged sections of society, said the head of one of the NGOs that has collaborated with the school for the reading partnership.
The school has invited children from three NGO schools who have access to the senior, middle and junior school libraries to browse and read.
“We want children to read and read for pleasure rather than look at it as a task where after reading they have to do a character sketch or analysis. They should read, enjoy, assimilate and reflect,” said Anjana Saha, principal of Mahadevi Birla World Academy.
Saha said that they chose to do it during school hours and not after because the interest wanes when it is done after regular hours.
“We have just finished the first cycle across the three sections: senior, middle and junior and we plan to sustain it through the academic session,” she said.
Reading together gives the scope for the exchange of ideas between the two groups of children and the chance for bonds to form between students otherwise separated by their financial status, teachers said.
“Often, our children feel intimidated and the exposure helps to break the psychological barrier that would eventually give them the courage to break glass ceilings. It is a process and not a one-day activity when they will learn to interact and not feel intimidated,” said Arjun Dutta, president of Calcutta Social Project, one of the NGOs in the programme.
Teachers at Mahadevi Birla World Academy said that the programme helps confidence-building among their own children, too, many of whom have faced learning gaps in the last two years.
“When some of these students are reading out to the NGO children, it is building their own confidence because they are helping others out,” said Nupur Ghosh, vice principal of the school.