KARACHI: There’s a festive environment at the Karachi Arts Council, where hundreds of students belonging to various government and private schools gathered to attend the day one of the Pakistan Learning Festival (PLF) on Tuesday.
The two-day festival was inaugurated by interim Education Minister Rana Hussain.
Speaking on the occasion, she said that informal education was an effective initiative to teach the children.
Sadia Sarmad while acting as ‘Dadi Gulabi’, an old woman who tells stories to children, captivated hearts of the audience with her performance. She informed the children about various exciting activities awaiting them throughout the festival.
Day one of the event saw launch of 15 books, storytelling sessions, learning workshops, etc
PLF anthem Hamein Kitaab Chahiye (‘We Need Book’) was presented. There were performances of students from Rose Islamic Academy, Lyari who danced in four distinct groups, each representing the rich culture of four provinces of the country.
Then the Young Author Award was announced. Ruqayyah Muhammad of Dawood Public School secured first position for her story, Dark Creatures of Chhanga Manga.
Journalist and environmental activist Aafia Salam enlightened the audience about the profound impacts of climate change, urging them to raise awareness and take immediate action.
As many as 15 storybooks by different authors were also launched at the festival by Rumana Husain.
The chief guest, Education Minister Rana Hussain won the hearts of the audience when she read out delightful tale of Ramoon Kahan Hai.
Taha Ahmed Farooqi, the secretary of department of empowerment of persons with disabilities, emphasised the importance of inclusive education in mainstream schools.
He said many school refused admissions to children who were mildly autistic and even those who were slow learners, which was unjust as these children were forced to go to special schools.
He also said that festivals for children should also be made more inclusive.
Later, the children headed towards numerous sessions and activities taking place both in the Arts Council’s auditoriums as well as in the open area where interactive workshops took place throughout the day.
They enjoyed thought-provoking discussions, artistic performances, educational workshops, and interactive learning experiences and explored the various modes of learning, from literature to the environment, and from the arts to technology.
Storytelling sessions were the most popular among children. These included narrations by Attiya Dawood and Shabnum Gul of books published by Pakistan Literacy Project, Room to Read, and Idara-i-Taleem-o-Aagahi.
The other very popular session of bilingual storytelling, conducted by Bina Shah in English and Rumana Husain in Urdu, of a book titled Sitti’s Bird, Gaza Ki Kahani, written by Palestinian author Malak Mattar, about her own personal experiences.
‘Bringing Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai in our classrooms’, was another interesting session, conducted by Mahtab Akber Rashdi and moderated by PLF chief executive Baela Jamil, that enlightened the young audience about the Sufi poet as well as Sindhi folklore.
PLF advisor and educator Ameena Saiyid and British Council’s Muhammad Ali also spoke.
Published in Dawn, November 8th, 2023