About the organization
PRAYOG is a library-based initiative that has been running libraries in government schools and community sites to ensure every child has access to diverse children’s literature, is able to understand the text/illustration, and shares the joy of reading. We intervene through a structured library session approach which takes care of various childhood diversities and is applicable to all our intervention catchments. Our mission is to create a culture of reading amongst children in the entire geography. We also enable other like-minded organizations who intend to engage with children through books and libraries.
Area of intervention
Our intervention is limited to Kuchaikote block in Gopalganj district where we are currently engaging with 25 Government schools and 2 community sites. The intervention population is the most vulnerable caste groups and Muslims, (with almost no to very limited landholding size). They have a limited role in decision-making. the community is spread over the flood-affected areas of the Gandak River.
These intervention schools and community sites are managed through 2 hubs, one in the eastern part of the block headquarters and one in the western part. These are as far as 45 km from the district headquarters. The latter reason places them beyond the pale of administrative intervention on the part of the education department.
Two of the team members are Wipro Education Fellows, which has sown the seeds for our zeal to deep dive into the library work that we do. Our school library program and community library program are being partly managed through this support. By the end of Mar 2023, we have expanded our intervention in 25 Govt schools reaching out directly to over 3,800 children in grades 1 to 5 and 2 community sites, initially reaching out to about 600 children but now reduced to 140.
Five community library sites (out of 7) were closed thoughtfully in discussion with children and parents as there was a repetition of efforts. The community sites began as a response to COVID-19 19 and post the opening of schools, it was operationally difficult to manage both programs.
The school library program also engages a teacher from the school and space has been offered in the school. Together, the Prayog team and the school system have made these spaces vibrant and welcoming for young readers. Based on our own learning and journey, we focus a lot on capacity building of the entire team on a routine basis and this has yielded results.
Learning and challenges
During our organizational journey, the past year has been full of learning for us. Investment in human resources’ capacity building is a must and it should be a continuous activity. People learn quickly when we trust them. A couple of recent recruits are Intermediate pass out but their transition in just a few months has been amazing.
So, education qualification alone should not be the criteria of selection rather a continued engagement with people shapes them up. Planning exercise is a must and yearly plans help us to remain focused throughout the year. It is based on these that micro plans have evolved. Our weekly plans play a critical role in ensuring the quality of delivery.
Besides some of these critical learning, there also have been a few challenges. Our documentation needs to be enhanced; we need to be more structured in such efforts. The team needs to be divided into thematic domains. In terms of the library work, we added close to 3,000 books this year alone. However, this is still not enough to begin book lending in all the schools. We need to build our collection.
Plan of action
In the next three years, we plan to deepen the entire team’s understanding of core library work as well as critical nuances that are also contextual, like understanding difficult topics like caste, class, race, religion, gender, sexuality, etc. We want to offer all library services to all the children, particularly 100 percent of children to avail the provisions of book lending.
We also intend to evolve as a resource organization in Bihar, where many other like-minded individuals and organizations come together for a library or reading culture in Bihar. We will not scale and move to other geographies, but rather enable and push these individuals and organizations from diverse geographies and communities to take this mission ahead.