“A library is not a stack of books,” Sujai G. Pillai, the campaigner of One Library Per Village (OLPV) begins. One may feel like asking where on earth he builds his house of books. Sujai goes that extra mile to keep the habit of reading alive in this technologically advanced era. Rather than pinning all the blame on it, he takes the high road of technology to promote reading through OLPV in the villages of Kollam district.
The book bucket challenge, which came as a prelude to promote reading, has moved on to the next level where technology-driven reading rooms would dictate the future. Having invested so much time and effort on his mission, Sujai is happy to see it gather momentum. The spark came from a gathering during the past Digital Literacy Week, that taught him where to start with.
“Among the 120 people gathered, a majority were women in the 25 to 60 age group. Further demarcating, their tech literacy too varied. The youngest age bracket had people who learned computers for a job. The 30-40 comprised of mothers mostly, who were keen on policing what their grown-up children were engaged with. The rest had a system at home, which they were eager to operate. We provided them a self-organised learning environment where they learn with each other,” he explains.
Every student, in this model, is a teacher. To help them learn are videos and self-help tutorials. Volunteers would assist if needed. Tablets loaded with games and e-books are provided for the students.
“By going online, Encyclopedia Britannica ended its 244 year history of printing hard copies in 2014. If we examine the pictures of Ptolemy or Pythagoras, you would see them sharing knowledge with the disciples, it’s not about books. The place for sharing knowledge has taken a new form, that’s it. Perhaps, our next generation won’t see the print, like the way audio cassettes are alien to present day youth,” he says.
Sujai has entered into a tie-up with private companies that are willing to contribute used computer systems for OLPV. A private bank in Kerala alone has contributed 40 computers for his initiative recently. So far six libraries in Kollam and one each in Vaikom and Ernakulam are beneficiaries of OLPV.
“In the end we would have contributed much towards educating adults,” says Sujai. He has plans to broaden the spectrum through ads and bring in more libraries to the project.