Children’s Learning Festival opens with fanfare

Published December 15, 2021
Children appear engrossed in a tale narrated by a master storyteller during the three-day Children’s Learning Festival on Tuesday while a play (right) Jungle Jungle Zindabad is also staged during the event held at the Arts Council of Pakistan, Karachi.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
Children appear engrossed in a tale narrated by a master storyteller during the three-day Children’s Learning Festival on Tuesday while a play (right) Jungle Jungle Zindabad is also staged during the event held at the Arts Council of Pakistan, Karachi.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

KARACHI: The three-day Children’s Learning Festival (CLF) commenced at the Arts Council of Pakistan here on Tuesday with the same motto of its organisers Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi to see a book, other than a course book, in children’s hands and of learning and teaching others.

Speaking to his huge audience of children from various schools at the inaugural ceremony, Sindh Information Minister Saeed Ghani, who is the chief guest on the occasion, said that he himself does not come from a highly educated background and yet he got to where he is today thanks to enabling himself through education.

“My grandparents were not educated people. Both my grandfather and grandmother used to work in the fields but they sent their son to school. And then my father sent me to school. I am the second generation in my family who is educated. And I did not take my education for granted. I studied very hard and I worked very hard too and it is thanks to my hard work that I am a minister today. If I could do it, so can you. You only need commitment,” he said.

28 books translated into Sindhi launched

On the occasion a set of some 28 children’s books, all adaptations, translated into Sindhi were also launched. In fact, there were several other book launches as the day progressed such as Amber aur Kashif ka Khel penned by Nepalese author Una Ilapin, Sadequain, a graphic storybook, and Khoo-Khoo-Khoo: Khaansta Sheher both by Rumana Husain. There was also Aik Sabaq Seekha by Aminah Alavi. There were also readings and discussions on books such as Amai and Shabnam, a book about inclusion by Fauzia Minallah along with many storytelling sessions of which the interactive sessions by the Naunehal magazine team were the most absorbing.

The three-day event will conclude tomorrow

More interactive sessions included a bookmaking session for children of age five to 12 in the ‘Fahmida Riaz ki Baithak’, which happened to be right outside the main auditorium, labelled by the CLF as the ‘Bhittai Auditorium’.

They had also labelled the open air theatre of the Arts Council as the ‘Sohail Rana Open Air Theatre’, the stalls area as the ‘Jamshed Nusse­rwanjee Mehta Courtyard’, the eating area or food court as ‘Burnes Road’ just like the other areas were called ‘Sadequain ki Gali’, ‘Moejodaro’, ‘Anita Ghulam Ali Ilm Jo Vehro’, etc.

The children were also treated to a science show and inclusive sessions organised by the Deaf Reach School and Kazim Trust. There were also activities such as arts and crafts workshops.

Among so many other things, children were also treated to a play Jungle Jungle Zindabad by Sheema Kermani’s Tehrik-e-Niswan theatre group. It was a beautiful production of two jungle animals, an elephant and a partridge, which see in the newspaper that some humans had an eye on their jungle. Suddenly, they are concerned about their environment. They are afraid that the humans will cut down the trees in the jungle for firewood and they will make dams over their rivers. They motivate other animals to join them as they head to the city to confront whoever has such plans.

Children appear engrossed in a tale narrated by a master storyteller during the three-day Children’s Learning Festival on Tuesday while a play (right) Jungle Jungle Zindabad is also staged during the event held at the Arts Council of Pakistan, Karachi.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
Children appear engrossed in a tale narrated by a master storyteller during the three-day Children’s Learning Festival on Tuesday while a play (right) Jungle Jungle Zindabad is also staged during the event held at the Arts Council of Pakistan, Karachi.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

Education without etiquette is useless

A conversation with Zehra Nigah, Dr Arfa Syeda Zehra and Mehtab A. Rashdi turned out to be an engaging discussion on literature, language and etiquette.

Poet Zehra Nigah recalled her childhood days when they had just moved to Pakistan and were living in a house without doors and windows.

“It was my mother’s faith that we had nothing to fear in our new and free country and her patience that saw us through those initial days,” she said.

“I have seen both hardship and comfort when I was little but I didn’t complain or become pompous. My brothers and sisters and I respected our elders who taught us a lot about life. There was a relative of ours who was also living with us. Before eating her meals she would feel half of her bread to the birds of the tree under which she had placed her bed. She said the birds were her neighbours and that she couldn’t greedily eat her food with her hungry neighbours watching her. She taught us that sharing was caring,” she said.

She added that today’s fast-paced life has seen many families living away from their family elders so children are deprived of such little lessons of life and values from them. Still, there are the books, which are one’s best friends. “They tell you so much without asking for anything in return,” she said.

Academic and language expert Dr Arfa Syeda Zehra said that what she was taught in her childhood by her elders she still carries with her. “Education is useless if you are not taught etiquette along with it,” she said.

“In our day, children were seen not heard. They would learn how to speak well by listening to others,” she said, while also adding that she was a naughty child growing up but that didn’t mean that she was insolent.

The Children’s Learning Festival concludes on Thursday (tomorrow).

Published in Dawn, December 15th, 2021

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