“जंगल में थी गर्मी भारी, पानी का था संकट जारी” (It was really hot in the forest, the water crisis continued) narrated Laxmikant, a motivator-teacher from Alwar, to a bunch of students at Rajkiya Prathmik Vidyalaya, Raisikh Bas, Ramgarh.
It is a government school with a current enrollment of about 133 students in grades one to five and three teachers. The walls of the school that look brand new with bright colors and visual information for students were not the same two years ago. Laxmikant joined the school as a motivator-teacher almost 2 years ago when we started working with them in 2017 and has since been an essential catalyst for change. Before Laxmikant and Ibtada’s education modules that comprises of 6 components including the library, the students lacked discipline, responsibility as well as a will to read. But, thanks to the Laxmikant, that has drastically changed over time.
With his efforts, an old storeroom filled with garbage, wood chunks and more was
transformed into a well-organized library at the school. They cleaned, painted and set up the library with a little over 350 books at first. Laxmikant looked after the entire process from the arrangement and segregation of books as per Room to Read’s leveling system GROW BY, to the conducting reading sessions and storytelling activities. The number of books has doubled over the 2 years and the library is still being run smoothly by the 'Bal Pustakalaya Samiti' (Child Library Management Committee) of the school. The CLMC consists of 2-3 students from each class who overlook the smooth functioning of the libraries. The 'Pustakalaya Mantri,' Kamlesh makes sure that all books are returned on time.
The leveling system in the library was introduced after training from ‘Room to Read’ staff for inculcating reading habits in young ones. In the GROW BY approach the books are marked as per their picture: text ratio. It uses Green, Red, Orange, White, Blue and Yellow coloured tags to mark each book. For example, a book in the G section will include 90% images and only 10% text whereas in the Y section will hardly feature any images. Each student has his/her own level and can issue a book of that level alone, the levels are assessed regularly and can change over time. The students keep track of the books by themselves and engage in related discussions and activities.
Earlier, students lacked an interest in reading and didn't have the opportunity to take a book home but with the advent of the library, they have developed a keen interest in reading, have become responsible and can easily issue books of their choice for up to 5 days. They read as many as 4 books in Hindi a month, of which most are by publishers like Pratham and Eklavya. The major share of the credit for this transformation goes to the motivator teacher, Laxmikant. He made certain that the children have interactive library sessions complete with poem recitals, storytelling, summary writing as well as doing pictorial representation of stories. He often took them outdoors for action games and worked with utter sincerity and diligence to improve the standard of the school in every aspect. It is motivators like him that make our educational programs effective. After making Raisikh Bas reach its potential, Laxmikant is off to other schools giving them the gift of reading.