Katha started its reading programmes in 1988 with Tamasha!, our children’s magazine for first generation school goers. UNICEF and the Government of Delhi helped take it to Delhi’s slums, and later the Government of Rajasthan chipped in for their schoolchildren. In 1990 our schools started to nurture reading through story and storytelling. In 2001, the Tamasha Roadshow started working with street children – reading being part of their school readiness plan and to getting into formal school. Since 2004, one gaily painted van called BowWow! [Books on Wheels, Workshops on Wheels] has reached out to children. BowWow is an inducement programme that uses storytelling, theatre and art to attract at-risk children to explore the world of knowledge.
In 2008, the Delhi Government invited us to work with their schools to enhance student’s reading skills. Through an innovative Reading League concept that Katha has patented, the I LOVE READING CAMPAIGN now brings better reading skills to 100, 000 children in 50 slums and 50 municipal corporation schools. Last year, to make the campaign more sustainable, we proposed a school transformation [STeP] concept to the Municipal Corporation of Delhi. With support of many partners, including UNESCO and Katha’s PACT (Principals Alliance for Creative Teaching), we now work with children and teachers to ensure that each child achieves grade-level reading. Katha’s STeP fosters ownership in each municipal school.
The Reading Mileposts
- 1988: Tamasha! is born to bring fun reading to children in government schools.
- 1989: Katha is registered with the main objective of enhancing the joys of reading.
- 1990: Katha starts its first school, The Khazana Experiment, in the Govindpuri slum cluster with government support. This evolved into the Katha Lab School with a special focus on reading, story pedagogy and quality education.
- 2001: The gaily painted Tamasha Roadshow vans take off to the streets to increase reading interest/skills in street children.
- 2002: A new curriculum strengthens the reading component.
- 2004: The reading campaign is taken to 10 government schools.
- 2006: Katha is invited by the government to present a reading campaign idea.
- 2007: Research and development of Tamasha! Easy Readers that form the basis of the I Love Reading Campaign.
- 2008: With the support of the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, Katha begins to scale up its strengths to bring a larger number of children in formal schools into reading.
- 2009: The I Love Reading campaign kickstarts in MCD schools with modules and methodologies devised and teachers trained.
- 2010: The ILR campaign sees the second phase of School Transformation Education Programme and extends the creative web bridge by reaching out to teachers, parents and the communities.
- 2010: The Katha StoryShop takes shape and gives children a space where they can touch, feel, hold, smell and read books.
- 2010: Katha sets up its reading resource centres across slums for increasing the effectiveness of elementary education.
Katha’s main mission goal since we started in 1988 has been: To enhance the joy of reading and the love of books in children and adults.
The I Love Reading! campaign is an ambitious and innovative effort to work with other local initiatives, to bring ALL children from mainly non-literate families in underserved communities, and in government, government-aided schools, especially primary schools, in Delhi into reading well and for pleasure. The campaign extends to private schools and those run by voluntary agencies.
The campaign aims to
- Equip children better to face the future, and create a level playing field for all through quality education.
- Hone reading habits in teachers and librarians; bring to them the joy of creative storytelling, creative writing.
Through cooperative action and activism, it brings together parents, teachers and everyone concerned about children’s lack of interest in reading. As we know, India is the only country with a steady population of 330 million children over the next 20-odd years. Books and reading are still important for the making of a mature and responsive, responsible adult; they make the difference between the achiever and the non-achiever. ILR brings the flavours and colours of India alive to children across the socio-economic, linguistic and cultural divides – with the support of volunteers and community members. ILR brings storytelling techniques and expertise to people across age groups.
ILR – STeP is a unique programme wherein all children of 50 MCD schools are participating to enhance their grade/age specific reading and numeracy skills with lots of fun and excitement. The idea is to bring all children into the sustainable elementary education system and to create an environment for life long learning. The programme also involves the teachers of MCD schools by creating a room for discussion and sharing of creative teaching methodologies, best practices, experiences etc with Katha’s principal mentors.
E4, the Epicentre for Effective Elementary Education Project is a two year initiative started in April 2010 supported by MHRD, Government of India. It presents an innovative and unique approach to increasing the effectiveness of elementary education, especially reading skills in children, with a special focus on working and street children in Delhi. Through this project, Katha has set up a central resource centre to support research and action towards effective elementary education for children.
The components of E4 include:
Katha Innovative Reading centres – The project entails an innovative and unique approach for enhancing the effectiveness of elementary education, especially centering on improving the reading skills of children.
Katha English Academy – A unique effort which brings greater language skills to students i.e. greater reading, writing and comprehension skills to children from non-literate families in elementary education, grades (1-8).
The NPO-EE Seamless Education Continuum Reasearch and Documentation Centre – The Research component of E4 is designed to provide documentation of the current status for children in relationship to education, and to work alongside Reading Centres to build Excited Students and Empowered Communities.
Faculty Development – Katha has impacted 148 teachers from the community through its Faculty Development component.
Production of Prints and Materials – Drawing from the vast storehouse of India’s narrative fiction, Katha has published books to increase the reading pleasure of our children.