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
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