KARACHI: Pakistan’s first-ever three-day digital Children’s Learning Festival concluded here the other day.
The three-day online event was organised by the Children’s Literature Festival (CLF), a nationwide movement and flagship programme of the civil society organisation Idara-i-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA), to celebrate the Independence Day of Pakistan.
The Children’s Learning Festival, held on Zoom and live streamed on CLF social media accounts, saw a wide array of online sessions and activities by partner organisations, CLF advisers, goodwill ambassadors, resource persons and children.
The online event was aimed at providing an equalising platform to promote diverse and innovative means of learning as children faced school closures amid Covid-19.
Hundreds of children from all across Pakistan participated in the Zoom sessions while thousands watched them live on Facebook.
The children termed the online event a great source of learning and entertainment while they remained stuck at home for the most part of the academic year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
At least 30 sessions were planned for the festival with 25 partner organisations participating in varied activities aimed at promoting learning.
Learning was at the heart of the festival with storytelling sessions, puppet theatre, book launches, open mic session Bol Ke Lab Azaad Hain Teray, Cinema Ghar, Dastan Goi, bookmaking, math and science activities, STEM workshops, arts and crafts workshops, and a conversation with the winners of CLF Young Author Award.
Moreover, there were insightful and thought-provoking discussions on topics concerning child protection during Covid-19, safe internet and promoting the love for literature.
Renowned educationist Dr Arfa Syeda Zehra and poet Amjad Aslam Amjad appeared as special guests and enjoyed interacting with the children.
The festival saw a special tribute to Sindhi Sufi saint Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai with a beautiful rendition of his baits on love, compassion, care and oneness by CLF adviser Mahtab Akbar Rashdi; the revival of music stalwart Sohail Rana’s songs by dhrupad singer Aliya Rasheed and the Sanjan Nagar School choir; and a jubilant rendition of legendary poet Ismail Merathi’s poem ‘Barsaat’ by musicians Ali Hamza, Rakae Jamil and Kami Paul.
The event also saw a session on Hunza folktales and folk music inciting children’s imagination about the scenic beauty of the Hunza Valley besides storytelling in Sindhi and Punjabi languages.
The digital learning festival also included fun-filled interludes by storyteller and illustrator Abdal Mufti and classical dancer Bina Jawad besides some entertaining and informative storytelling videos with interpretation in Pakistan Sign Language to promote inclusion.
ITA CEO and CLF founder Baela Raza Jamil expressed pride over the successful online event. “This is the first time in Pakistan that the CLF is conducted online and the massive response speaks volumes of the success of this venture,” she said.
She acknowledged the supporters of the CLF and thanked them for their active contribution to the cause of promoting learning for children despite the pandemic.
Published in Dawn, August 23rd, 2020