The Mobile Library Programme for primary and secondary schools is offered to communities located in the most underserved parts of the Haryana state of India. The programme provides access to early learning resources, increasing children’s motivation to learn, and helps develop teacher skills.
When comparing before and after launching the programme, teachers reported on average more than a 70 % increase in school attendance. As highlighted by a primary school teacher: “Activities help kids to get interested. Our school had a total of 211 kids, and after the intervention of the Mobile Library Programme 17 new kids have enrolled. In comparison to previous years we also see that absenteeism has reduced.”
Ashoka University, in collaboration with the Small Steps Foundation and Worldreader, launched the programme in 2017, beginning in Sonipat district targeting local communities where literacy remains low and young parents and teachers lack quality reading and learning resources.
Across large sections of India, mobile technology has transformed learning and reading methods, but these benefits are yet to be distributed evenly to rural India. As Praveen Kashyap, a 20-year old student from a local village, expressed: “Until now, not many people in my village had seen a computer or a laptop”.
Attendance and dropout rates at primary and secondary schools were worsening as parents could not see the value in education. Those leaving school were most likely to remain locked in a systemic poverty loop.
To address this, a single van was equipped with television and tablets loaded with up to 40,000 ebooks and 400 early learning videos, as well as physical books, games, toys and puzzles, to provide a complete library experience to rural schools and children.
During the first 18 months of the programme, the mobile library visited 14 schools in 10 villages, reaching over 800 students and increasing school attendance and engagement across all ages. On average, 50-100 students, ages 4 to 16, attended each mobile library session.
In addition, Ashoka University Library, through its Khel Kahani programme, provided teachers of participating schools with curated collections of learning resources and toys which they can continue using in educating children through storytelling.
As one of the teachers shared: “The books and resources have helped children to learn through play and to make them excited to come to school. There has been unbelievable progress in their intellectual and educational development”. “We’re not afraid, now it is fun to study!”, one of the students said.
Principal Mr Deepak Kumar of the Government School in Jajal Toki village shared his gratitude: “We are grateful to Dr Rangashri Kishore and the library team for helping us in implementing innovative learning for children through library programmes. Because of this, the kids are very eager to come to school, especially those who had dropped out. I am grateful to the team for bringing this project and helping children to read and learn creatively in this extremely remote village of the state".
As the local press coverage continues to amplify the message in communities, more schools are interested to participate in this programme. Ashoka University is seeking to grow the programme with more frequency and tailored sessions for different student groups.