More than a lakh children across rural India huddled around the soft light of solar lamps and raconteurs this International Literacy Day, as part of an initiative to inculcate the habit of reading among them.
The September 8 programme, Lighting Up Young Minds, was undertaken by a social enterprise ‘Dharma Life’, aiming to achieve the twin goals of marketing its products such as solar lights through rural entrepreneurship and empowerment through education. Reading sessions for over 1,50,000 students aged between 8-15 in around 1,400 villages were held on that day, founder and CEO of Dharma Life Gaurav Mehta said. The UNESCO theme for International Literacy Day, in its 50th year, is “Reading the Past, Writing the Future”.
“We wanted to give children, who traditionally lack access to quality education, a tool to empower themselves. Through this campaign, we also wanted to demonstrate the use of clean energy solar lanterns, which allow village activities to continue long after the sun sets,” Mehta said. The campaign, which also seeks to increase the accessibility of books and making reading fun, will run through the year and culminate next year on International Literacy Day. Dharma Life has 4,295 village entrepreneurs in states including Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Karnataka, Mehta said.