Regional LitCam Conference

Media and Publishing: Means to Valuable Education

The First LitCam Conference in India: For the first time, a regional LitCam Conference took place in India. On the 26th of August LitCam opened at the India International Centre focusing on “Media and Publishing: Means to Valuable Education”.

Within the context of JUMPSTART the LitCam conference targeted to discuss the role of publishing and media for literacy. On the afternoon 10 speakers from different organisations presented their views, more than 60 participants wanted to know more about how literacy can be supported.
After the greetings of Akshay Pathak, director of JUMPSTART, who cooperates with LitCam, the LitCam director Karin Plötz presented her organisation. The keynote speaker Vinod Raina, who is one of the best experts of education in India and member of the National Advisory Council, Right to Education, focused on the question, what role the plays public policy to enable better content for textbooks in the different Indian states. The first session “Literacy and Publishing” featured five experts who represented different aspects of the publishing industry. They all have a common goal: to involve more people in reading. The excellent moderator of these panel, Urvashi Butalia, director & co founder of Kali for Women publishing house, drew the attention to women in the publishing industry and especially to the situation of girls who even today have less chances to receive a good education in India.

How books could be spread throughout India and be affordable for poor people was the main theme of Manisha Chaudhry, head Content development of Pratham Books, and of the vice president of the school division of Pearson Education, Narveen Rajlani. They cooperate to promote reading among marginalised children in the villages and small towns of India. Rajlani explained, why Pearson gives ten percent of their school books for free to Pratham books, who distribute the books to the poor villages.
The third panellist, Parth J Shah, founder president of the Centre for Civil Society, criticised the governmental plan to use the same school books in every Indian state: it will not be efficient and wise, because there are different languages and situations every school class and child faces in India.
More theoretical was the part of Ankush Bansal, CFO and head of business strategy at Indus Learning Solutions. He underlined the importance of relevant data.
The last presentation of this panel came from Renu Gosh, chief executive of the Meena-Project-Roopayan, and was all about about Meena, the comic girl who became a role model for girls throughout India.

After a networking break moderator Amritha Tripathi started the second session “Literacy and Media”. Ira Joshi, senior manager Education from the Sesame Workshop, Galli Galli Sim Sim, talked about the educational benefits of the internationally successful TV series Sesame Street.
The value of TV for literacy was also the focus of Brij Kothari, founder of Planet Read. With his project “Same Language Subtitled” he invented a mass literacy programme. He underlined the importance of media for literacy. Today there are 250 million Indians, who are functional illiterates. With the SLS-Programme on TV many of them learn to read for example newspapers.
Disha Mullick, project coordinator, presented the Khabar Lahriya-Nirantar project. Functionally Illiterate women in villages got in touch with newspaper production and some of them became reporters. Now most of them are used to read newspapers and are more involved in public life.
More technical input came from Dr. Aditya Dev Sood, founder and CEO of the Centre for Knowledge Societies. He explained how modern technology like smart phones can support illiterates.
Another perspective came from Pratik Kumar, COO of Magic Bus. He illustrated how sport can help underprivileged children to develop the life skills they need.
A truly amazing event completed the LitCam Confernce: the puppet show by the Muppeteers from Galli Galli Sim Sim namely Chamki and Googly invited the teachers, publishers and authors after a long and intense day to become children again.
Last but not least at the following reception the participants had the chance to share their ideas and expand their networks or just have a nice chat with colleagues.

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