Turkahan school - the most remote of our Primary schools - has a lovely little library courtesy of Baal Dan whose funding made the school possible and who have continued to support us by sponsoring pupils and providing resources. Libraries in many Indian schools are a disgrace. They are often locked, dusty and uninviting and the books are frequently tattered and stored in closed cases, crammed in, spines out, on shelves that are more often than not out of reach of the smallest children.
|Children reading in Guria library|
Over the last couple of years we have worked to make our libraries more accessible and pleasant places, to encourage staff and children to come in and read. An image I have used to try to help the schools improve their libraries is to say that the library should be a temple; clean, beautiful, cared for and visited regularly with love and respect. We have started to make some shelves suitable for books for younger children, where the books face outwards and can be easily seen and handled.
Turkahan Library has high ceilings, which helps keep it cooler in the fierce heat of summer, but as we keep the bookshelves to child height, it meant that we had quite an expanse of bare wall high up, which seemed to cry out for decoration. From this the idea of an art project where the children of Turkahan would design and paint a frieze on the library walls was born.
|Sanjay - class 7 - drawing|
The walls were measured and the space divided into a series of panels. Children were given pieces of paper of the correct dimensions and asked to paint a picture for one of the panels - the subjects were to be religious stories or tales from Indian history.
The artists drew a grid on the paper so that later their drawing could more easily be transferred to the wall.
|Sanjay's completed painting of Hanuman burning Lanka|
Once the paintings were completed they were judged and the best and most suitable were chosen for the next stage.
The quality of the paintings submitted was amazing, and the difficulty was to choose from among so many wonderful pieces of work.
|Laxman Shakti by Ravi Shankar - class 4|
Many of the pupils chose stories from the great epic poem The Ramayana and the decision was made to take six of these two tell the great story along two of the walls. The remaining two walls would contain pictures of stories from the Mahabharata and historical stories of Rana Pratap, a 16th century ruler of Rajasthan.
|Ram resting in the forest by Ashish - class 2|
The next stage would be to transfer the pictures onto the walls and the next blog post will show how this was done.
|Ram killing Tadka by Gauri and Fuldei - class 7|