After the success of the Islamabad Literature Festival, the Oxford University Press (OUP) has announced to hold a Children’s Literature Festival (CLF) by the end of the month.
At a press conference, representatives from OUP, Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) and Open Society Foundation Institute (OSFI) announced the sixth CLF in the country, will be held at the Pak-China Centre on May 24-25.
ITA Programmes Director Baela Raza Jamil said that they had written a request letter to the Prime Minister to consider waiving off the cost of the venue. The programme for the festival was reduced from three to two days to cut down on the cost as the organisers said they could not bear the hefty amount of Rs2,055,000. However, ITA has still to pay up a Rs1,370,000.
The letter reads that according to the constitution, the state should provide free and compulsory education to all children aged from five to 17 years. The letter further requests to waive off or provide concession at the venue.
The event aims to bring together thousands of children and teachers to interact and learn from not just the participants but from each other as well. CLF acts as an equaliser for all school systems including government and private schools and seminaries to address challenges of learning, reviving a culture of reading and generating content for textbooks and supplementary materials in the classrooms.
OSFI Nargis Sulatana said that the quality of education is a major issue in the county, adding that working with several partners across the country made them realise the difference in the quality, teaching methodology and curriculum.
CLF is an initiative to promote reading, creativity and critical thinking amongst children. “We need to promote libraries to encourage critical thinking and creativity,” said Sultana.
Poet Zehra Nigah said that the advantage of such events is immense as they engage in healthy activities such as reading over watching videos on the internet.
“Irrespective of the security situation, we saw thousands children in Balochistan and Peshawar come out and participate in the festival. Invitations have been extended to not just private and public schools as well as students of seminaries to become a part of this event” said Jamil. “This festival should be treated as a national movement,” she added. The OUP Managing Director Ameena Sayid said that the aim is to generate that drive amongst children to want to read books. The festival that was launched in Lahore in 2011, has been held at Quetta, Peshawar, Bahawalpur and Karachi with an attendance of over 80,000 children and adults.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 3rd, 2013.