Friday, May 15, 2015

Found in translation

There are literary charms all over the Katha office. Mostly, Katha published them. Mostly, Katha made them for kids. There are books in English. There are books in Hindi. There are translations from all over the country, with a much needed emphasis on the north east. But then, if you pay close attention, you will find books that Katha published some time ago, that are authoritative readings on the area that Katha works in. The people at Katha work in educating children, training teachers and publishing books. Katha works with government school teachers, teaching them to teach holistically, using activities. There are dedicated teams working on textbooks, working in classrooms, even creating illustrations so the child’s eyes want to stay on the page. A Katha publication catches my eye in the office. It is called, “Translating Power”. I am at the edge of my seat as I begin to read them.
Saugata Bhaduri has edited Translating Power beautifully. He quotes

"All translation practice and theory is based on a theory of culture – on the relation between self and other, identity and difference. That is to say: implicit to the act of translation are a set of assumptions about the ways in which linguistic forms carry cultural meanings"

Of course, I am not alluding here to translation, as the literal act of communicating the words of one written language to another alone. Saugata helps me clarify in another excellent quote:
“Each text is unique, yet at the same time it is the translation of another text. No text can be completely original because language itself, in its very essence, is already a translation – first from the non verbal world, and then, because each sign and each phrase is a translation of another sign, another phrase.”

I am reading Sukhjit’s Chandri, translated from Punjabi, by Hina Nandrajog and P S Anand. The Fauji’s helplessness is palpable. The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle states that you can never simultaneously know the exact position of an object without impacting its speed and vice versa. This is also true when different sections of society come together, as they do, all around us. A social organization that aims to effect children and communities positively must be cognizant of every step it takes.  In this series of articles about the various departments of the organization, I hope to take you through some of the insightful work that Katha does. 

Contributed by Rohini Manyam Seshasayee, an intern at Katha

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Katha launches the first ever Hindi teacher resource website!

Katha launches, the first event Hindi-language teacher resource website on 26 March 2015. Katha Reading Excellence & Teacher Education (KREATE) centre proposes a bricks & clicks initiative for teacher education to create engaged teachers who create a nation of engaged students.

KREATE was conceptualized by Mrs. Geeta Dharmarajan, Padma Shri, Founder & President of  Katha.

The pilot phase of the project is supported by Tech Mahindra Foundation.

The website will convert Katha’s NCERT-based classroom materials that have been highly successful with students from underserved/poor communities into quality e-classroom materials/videos on best practices etc.  It aims at digital inclusion for teachers who cannot access the wealth of teaching-learning resources available online because of language and context barriers. Furthermore this is a sustainable means for Katha to share its rich culturally relevant resources for teachers and schools on an open-source, digital platform. Additionally, create a space for interaction, idea-sharing and experience exchange.

To start with, Katha envisioned to teach one teacher/school to access the Cloud, thereby encouraging the school to use them regularly. Katha hand-holds the other teachers. Katha is a grassroots Indian non-profit organization that for the last 25 years has been empowering children to become agents of change through quality education, teacher training, and world-class book publishing. aims to promote this mission with the addition of digital inclusion and sustainability. 

The idea is to host these on a special website/Cloud server, making them accessible to first Delhi schools as pilot; then to village schools at the end of the broadband to Panchayats that Government of India is working on. The attempt is to reach out to many Hindi-Medium teachers across India. Although the team at Katha directly worked with approximately 75 MCD schools and 100 teachers during the pilot, it hopes that the website will be more widely used by teachers across India's Hindi speaking areas. Furthermore the goal is to support teachers in making classrooms more innovative and improving the quality of learning, therefore impacting over 15,000 children in the pilot MCD schools, and many more in the future. 

Through this program, MCD teachers will have a long term benefit. Benefits include access to Hindi-language resources, as well as a community of teachers to discuss, share and ideate with. Long term plan includes aim to provide support training to a much larger number of schools, and expand the content resources available on the website. The website aims to create a virtual database which teachers can both access and contribute to, along with an online community forum where teachers can exchange ideas, best practices and experiences.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Village Bricks and Clicks Project in Gujarat

'Art in Education' training by Katha's teacher, Arup Chatterjee 
Katha, in partnership with the Essar Group, has conducted a teacher-training program, ‘Village Bricks & Clicks’, in Vadinar district of Gujarat, through which primary school teachers in government schools were trained in Katha’s Story pedagogy and usage of the Katha toolkit to bring art, dance, music, theater, debate/discussion and e-learning in classroom teaching. By leveraging the IT infrastructure in the schools, Katha’s beautifully illustrated e-books will bring about a fillip in the reading habits and interests of the children.

Teacher Learning Material making session with
Katha's resource persons 
The 6-month project culminated with the event, Indradhanush, held on 21-22 February, 2015, attended by almost 3000 school children and teachers in which children and teachers had the opportunity to showcase what they have learned through exhibitions, performances, and other activities.

Katha conducted stimulating activities to captivate the attention of parents, teachers, and children alike during Indradhanush.
1. Various materials developed by the teachers and children during the training period were exhibited.
2.     Live, hands-on workshops were held in stalls for children to take part in during the event. These workshops were based on:
·        Art and craft;
·        Developing innovative teaching learning material;  
·        E-learning through Katha e-books;
·        Film appreciation
·        Robotics 
'Parimandalo ki Byatha' - skit presented by
children of Zakhar Primary School

In addition there were stage performances of theater by children who, along with their teachers, were trained by the Katha trainers to develop a play and showcase their ability to stage it.

There were also active story-telling sessions on stage by a trained Katha resource person which demonstrated how Katha integrates and delivers topics of taught subjects of the curriculum through the medium of stories.

Katha book stalls at Indradhanush and storytelling sessions

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Gijjigadus and the Fireflies by Gopini Karunakar | Art by Atanu Roy

A delightful fantasy on how fireflies came into being.
Once golden sparrows called Gijjigadus approached Devuda, a female god, to request her for some light to illuminate the dark nights for their little chicks. 'Women have lamps that they can light,' they said, 'the cobra has a gem on his head and the owl has eyes that shine bright in the night, but our babies live cowering with fear, in their dark nests.
Devuda agreed to help them come up with a solution. Suddenly, one of the gijigadus had a brainwave. 'The moon rubs against the sky, making moondust. And this moondust flies away, as fireflies.' Why not harness their light?
Devuda is pleased with the solution and off they go to request the fireflies to light up the dark nests of the little Gijjigadus chicks.
Whilst the story is a fantasy, it subtly demonstrates the symbiotic relationships that exists in the animal world.
The end pages throw further light on the world of insects and birds.
Printed in an extra large format, the story has beautiful illustrations with a lot of little interesting details that the kids will love to discover as they flip through the pages. Large size font, with minimal words are a bonus.

Available in English and Hindi.

For more info, contact us at

Reviewed by YoungIndiaBooks

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Famous Smile by Geeta Dharmarajan | Art by Rashin Kheiriyeh

Who could have a toothier grin than the crocodile? 
Geeta Dharmarajan takes you on a journey with Agar Magar, as he sets out to make it big.  After several failed attempts with the animals of the jungle, he finally gets recognition from a photographer of the town.
The storyline is simple.  The whole focus is on the teeth of Agar Magar and the writer has used interesting words to conjure up vivid images of the crocodile's teeth.
"How the sun shone on his teeth! How they sparkled! How they twinkled! As if someone had stuck millions of big and little stars on them!"
The illustrator Rashin Kehiriyeh has matched the text imagery with his brilliant illustrations.  The monochromatic illustrations mingled with the handmade paper gives the book a dramatic effect.  The placing of the text brings into focus the expanse and enormity of the crocodile's teeth. 
Parents can definitely use this story to teach their little ones the benefits of dental hygiene. 
A delightful book, with a simple idea that will bring a smile to your child's face.
This book has won the Katha Chitrakala Award in 2006 for its Outstanding Creativity. It is also chosen in 101 Best Indian Children's Books by YOUNG ZUBAAN. Also recommended by CBSE.

Reviewed by YoungIndiaBooks