Thursday February 29, 2024

Children’s Literature Festival takes off with a bang

February 27, 2016


The Children’s Literature Festival opened with a bang at the Dawood Public School on Friday morning.

The venue wore a really festive look with groups of lovely little children presenting songs and dances to mark the opening, cloaking the Dawood Public School in a really happy ambiance.

Sindh education secretary Dr Fazlullah Pechuho while speaking at the opening ceremony lauded the Army and Rangers for having laid down their lives “to assure our safety, as a result of which we are here today celebrating this auspicious day”.

He said the Government of Sindh had introduced reading classes in schools all over the province. For this, he thanked the USAID for its support rendered in the endeavour. The secretary announced that the Sindh government will soon hand over four schools to the private sector and also foot the bill if similar literature festivals for children were held in Sukkur and Hyderabad.

In her keynote address, Mrs Ameena Saiyid, the managing director of Oxford University Press (Pakistan) said, “The Children’s Literature Festival has become part of our lives. This degree of interest and anticipation reflect the need and the importance of books — not just to learn and pass examinations but to enjoy the magic of the written word and read for pleasure. Reading opens windows of the mind to new sights and dreams. Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. Reading gives liberty to the mind.”

The events at the festival, she said, cover a wide range of interests and activities for all ages, from early years to the teens, their parents and teachers. However, said Saiyid, the focus was on children.

As for parents and teachers, there will be discussions on enhancing the methods of teaching across the country, as regards quality and quantity, the role of books, and matters pertaining to the scourge of piracy, rights, and digital projects.

The festival celebrations began with a large children’s choir singing the festival anthem, “Hamein Kitab Chahiye”.

Saiyid expressed her gratitude to the Karachi Youth Initiative, the Dawood Foundation, the Dawood Public School, Open Society Foundations, Olpers, the Canadian High Commission, Sindh Ministry of Education and Literacy and CLF’s CEO Maham Ali.

Sabrina Dawood, the CEO of Dawood Foundation, said, “We at the Dawood Foundation firmly believe in disseminating education across all levels of the society. Therefore, our collaboration with the CLF cements our aim to inspire children to become agents of social change.”

While talking to The News, she said that a very big flaw in the education system of Pakistan was that there were next to none extra-curricular activities for children. There were no museums or any other avenues where children could add to their information other than the classroom. She said the Dawood Foundation aims to make learning a wider-embracing activity. “We don’t want a child’s education just to be exam-and-classroom oriented,” she said.

On a question about the traditional method of corporal punishment administered to children, she replied, “If I ever got to know that a teacher in my school had resorted to corporal punishment, I’d chuck her out of the school right away.”

Ms Baela Raza Jameel, co-founder of the CLF along with Ameena Saiyid, said, “We should have a system where there are people with broad minds and visions. There should be no discrimination between children from affluent and non-affluent families. We have to demolish the walls that divide our society.”

Later there was a session by Khalid Anam, Faiza Kazi and Hena Ameed titled “Babbi, Tishu, aur MJ”. It was a musical skit extolling the habit of reading and keeping the scourge of piracy at bay. It contained some really melodious vocal numbers by Khalid Anam, Faiza Kazi and Hena Ameed of the The Citizens’ Foundation.

Khalid Anam, with his rich baritone was accompanied by Faiza Kazi who sang brilliantly in descant.

In all, there were 27 sessions on a wide variety of subjects. One of the sessions pertaining to the rights of the child could not be held as the presenter didn’t turn up.

Later, there was a display of the profusion of musical talent among the youth of Karachi with groups presenting Ghazals and songs like “Aaj jaane ki zid na karo” and a display of poetic talent whereby children recited their verses and Ghazals.

Later, noted and nationally acclaimed vocalist Zoe Viccaji entertained large groups of schoolchildren to some favourite vocal numbers including a hit of yesteryear, “Aap jaisa koi meri zindagi men ayey”  originally rendered by the late Nazia Hassan.