Pustakmala Community Library is more of a community program than a library. It is running in the same slum from where we admitted some 50 children into schools. The project was started because after admitting children into the school need of some kind of after school intervention is required to keep the kids in school. The further intervention was necessary because the reading abilities of the children were not as per their academic standards. Many children in class 6 were not able to read beyond letters. So considering the situation we designed a community program which subsequently settled in the Pustakmala Community Library.
The program was named Pustakmala because unlike traditional libraries the books aren't stored at a particular location and they remain with the children and the School Chale Trust felicitate the exchange of books among children once or twice every week. The whole program translated into a community library because we attempt to link one child with the other child and try to amplify the peer learning. Further, we make sure that we give individual attention to each child. Moreover, many times we also take notice of the common illness and make parents aware about how they can save themselves from common illness just by following few routines such as drinking chlorinated water.
At present, we are reaching out to more than 300 children and more than 80 percent of readers are female. The whole project has impacted the reading level of children in a big manner. Since the time we started going to the place many children who were barely able to read are now reading the books fluently. Many who never looked towards English in a positive manner have now started reading some English books meant for beginners. Further, the fear of reading is going away from them and the impact was clearly visible in their first term result. Their vocabulary has improved and parent’s participation has improved a lot. In addition, their ability to ask questions and their curiosity has also improved.