Lakshmana Venkat Kuchi
Mumbai, March 25: Film superstar and actress Kareena Kapoor Khan, whose ability to influence people across sections of society is well established, has turned her attention to focus on propagating the key skill of reading – one of the three basic Rs – reading, writing and arithmetic – that helps in the cognitive development of the future citizens of the country – children.
She has teamed up with UNICEF, an organisation she has been working with closely for a decade now, for its latest campaign – every child read – to build reading habits among the children, some who are not so privileged. The formal launch of the UNICEF campaign with Kareena Kapur Khan as a celebrity advocate will kick off on April 23 in Maharashtra. The global body is carrying out this campaign with the help of the Maharashtra government.
Ms Kareena spent nearly an hour with school children at Mitha Nagar Municipal Primary School, in Goregaon West locality of Mumbai on Saturday listening to their stories, their ambitions and their feeling their emotions, some of which she daily goes through with her children now growing up and their hunger for tales and stories that she reads out to them every night.
“Despite our busy schedules, me, and Saif, take turns and spend twenty minutes to half an hour, every day, day after day religiously and faithfully. And this I am finding has kindled a lot of interest in Taimur, as he is in that age when he is absorbing a lot and learning,” Kareena said in response to a question about how she made her own children pick up the reading habit.
She said every person should devote some time to their children and ensure that they read, and learn, as it makes them grow wise and knowledgeable, and achieve something in their lives.
“I also participate in many book donation programmes to help the underprivileged gain access to knowledge through reading,” Kareena said and hoped that more and more people join this and make it a movement. She expressed happiness that many corporates and organisations are also coming forward in this arena, but yes, every little bit helps, including creating awareness through media.
In fact, there is no doubt that reading is an important foundational skill that promoted cognitive development and is a predictor of academic success later in life.
In what she considers her small effort to help children in her surroundings, Kareena said she thoroughly enjoyed spending time with the school children and listening to their stories. What struck me was their confidence, poise, and ability to tell their stories, and convey their emotions without any hesitation.
She was happy that she came for the Goshticha Shanivar (Saturday of Stories), a Reading Campaign to encourage Reading for Joy, launched by UNICEF in partnership with SCERT and Pratham Books in 2020.
This campaign provides good quality children’s literature to elementary school children across Maharashtra. Now the campaign has gone digital too and the teachers are also creating innovative ways to reach out to students, those who do not have access to devices or the internet.
Whether it is using loudspeakers of local temples or taking microphones and speakers mounted on vehicles to the cluster of homes of children, the teacher’s commitment is something to be appreciated.
Kareena also spent some time interacting with the teachers at the school.
So far, since its launch in 2020, the campaign reached 3.1 million children.
Welcoming Kareena and thanking her for her time and commitment, Zafrin Chowdhury, Chief of Communications, UNICEF India said the more you read, the more things you will know, the more you learn, the more place you will go.
Rajeswari Chandrasekharan, UNICEF Mumbai head, said that the UNICEF new campaign will launch formally on April 23 with the help of the Maharashtra government, there is of course a pressing need for such a campaign as the data on reading abilities coming out from the schools is entirely not up to the mark. By the time children come to class 5, fifty per cent of them do not know how to read class V textbooks and this percentage gets higher as one moves up the classes.
“We intend the campaign to pan India, but starting with Maharashtra,” she said.
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