Creat­ing an ed­u­ca­tion rev­o­lu­tion through books

Li­brary set up with con­tri­bu­tions by labour­ers and mi­grant work­ers with aim to build bet­ter fu­ture for their chil­dren

Sunday Tribune - - NEWS - JAIDEEP SARIN

AT FIRST glance, it is just an­other small room with one wall al­most crum­bling. But this 22.86m2 space means the world for chil­dren of fac­tory work­ers and labour­ers in Pun­jab’s in­dus­trial hub Ludhiana.

With­out any grant or sup­port from cor­po­rates or the govern­ment, this ed­u­ca­tion en­deav­our by work­ers and daily wage earn­ers liv­ing in the Ra­jiv Gandhi colony area of Ja­malpur in Ludhiana’s Fo­cal Point in­dus­trial area, is mak­ing a sea of dif­fer­ence to the lives of chil­dren who come here ev­ery sin­gle day with their work­ing par­ents.

The Sha­heed Bha­gat Singh Pus­takalaya has no fancy ad­dress, no high-pro­file cor­po­rate so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity sup­port and no big-time NGO ded­i­cat­ing its re­sources. Yet, it is on a mis­sion: to cre­ate a small ed­u­ca­tion rev­o­lu­tion by touch­ing the lives of the many chil­dren com­ing here to study.

Mes­sages from mar­tyrs like Bha­gat Singh, Safdar Hashmi and oth­ers adorn the walls of the li­brary. “Be­htar zindagi ka raasta be­htar ki­taabon se hokar jaata hai” (The road to a bet­ter life passes through good books) – a board out­side the room says.

“We es­tab­lished this li­brary in April this year. It is en­tirely an ef­fort of work­ers and labour­ers of the in­dus­trial units in Ludhiana, who live in the vicin­ity of the LIG (low-income group) flats and Ra­jiv Gandhi colony,” said Lakhwinder Singh, the man be­hind the mis­sion to guide the work­ers’ chil­dren to a bet­ter fu­ture.

The li­brary has been set up un­der the aegis of the Karkhana Maz­door Union by col­lect­ing funds from the work­ers. Con­tri­bu­tions ranged from 100 ru­pees (R19) to 5 000 ru­pees. Most work­ers earn a month.

Lakhwinder, 33, who has done an ad­vanced diploma in dye and mould-mak­ing from a cen­tral in­sti­tute in Chandi­garh and has been liv­ing in Ludhiana since 2006, is the main force be­hind the li­brary project. He is mar­ried but has no chil­dren yet.

“We be­gan ev­ery­thing on a small scale. We have got no fund­ing from the govern­ment or any cor­po­rate. The chil­dren com­ing here are not be­ing forced to do so. They come here on their own and are lik­ing the con­cept of teach­ing here,” he pointed out.

Ludhiana, one of the largest in­dus­trial hubs in Asia, with a pop­u­la­tion of 3.5 mil­lion, is known for its bi­cy­cle less than 10 000 ru­pees in­dus­try, tex­tile units, auto-parts man­u­fac­tur­ing and scores of other busi­nesses.

The li­brary gets ac­tive from 4pm to 7pm ev­ery day when the chil­dren come here to get an ed­u­ca­tion.

Kr­is­han Ku­mar, a teach­ing vol­un­teer, uses hands-on con­cepts, in­clud­ing show­ing films, to cre­ate aware­ness and im­part ed­u­ca­tion.

The li­brary has more than 500 books in stack on iron shelves.

Lakhwinder pointed out that the par­ents of a ma­jor­ity of the chil­dren who come to the li­brary have them­selves not stud­ied beyond Class (Grade) 8 or are il­lit­er­ate, but do not want their chil­dren to suf­fer the same fate.

“The room can ac­com­mo­date over 30 chil­dren. At times, we have to put a stop on the num­bers as the room can­not ac­com­mo­date more chil­dren,” Lakhwinder said.

For an an­nual charge of 50 ru­pees, the chil­dren are pro­vided with a li­brary card and are al­lowed to take two books home at a time. The fee is charged to make the chil­dren re­spon­si­ble for the books. “The chil­dren like to come here. They are al­lowed to ex­press them­selves freely,” said Lakhwinder.

The chil­dren com­ing here are en­thu­si­as­tic about what they are do­ing here. “It’s quite nice and re­fresh­ing to come here. Learn­ing here is a lot of fun,” Khushi, 13, a stu­dent of Class VII, said.

In its own mod­est way, this li­brary is mak­ing a defini­tive change in the lives of young ones. | IANS

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