Scrapbook 2019: We need literature in education to foster meaningful life

Govind Prasad Sharma, chairman, National Book Trust, said that vanishing literature from school education is clipping the wings of imagination and is robbing the child of a meaningful life despite having a successful career. He was speaking at the 2019 edition of Scrapbook, the annual children's publishing conclave organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (Ficci) on 10 August 2019 in New Delhi.

12 Aug 2019 | By Dibyajyoti Sarma

Karthika VK, co-chair, Ficci publishing committee and publisher, Westland, during the event

The year, the focus of the conclave was ‘diversity of content’. In particular, the initiative highlighted the need and requirement for diversity of content in K12 education space to enhance the learning outcomes.

On this, Sharma said technology is transforming society and impacting children, which is a cause of concern. “The kind of education you give to the society, you get the same kind of people,” he said. “Sahitya (literature) is vanishing from education and schools. There is no language section in Class 11 and 12. And, the focus on science and technology may give the child a successful career and a job but literature can build a sense of compassion, sympathy and cooperation among the children.”

Sharma urged the publishers of children's books to create content that not only helps children lead a safal jiwan (successful life) but also sarthak jiwan (meaningful life) that goes beyond working for self and family by contributing towards society. He said, “Literature gives the wings of imagination even to a scientist for great works."

The K12 school system in India is one of the largest in the world with more than 1.4-million schools with over 250-million students enrolled. In the last one decade, the sector has undergone an overhaul. Although, technology has made inroads into the sector with the promise of actively engaging students in the learning process, thereby, improving learning outcomes and reducing teachers’ repetitive tasks, its potential is yet to be fully realised.

Within this context, the Scrapbook 2019 explored possible collaboration between various actors of the ecosystem, including children content creators, publishers, offline and online service providers, technology disrupters, teachers, schools, parents, children, and policy makers.

The key highlights of the daylong conclave included policy advocacy to nurture collaboration between schools, government and children’s publishers to enhance learning outcome in K12 educational space; advocate diversity of content and its impact on learning; highlight concerns related to K12 content to concerned government departments; address the role of publishers in curriculum development; role of technology in children’s content and its impact on K12 education; understand global best practices in K12 learning and provide solutions to map learning outcomes.

Speaking on the occasion, Hrushikesh Senapaty, director, NCERT, said it is a matter of great concern whether society is preparing a good human being, a good citizen despite most of the children scoring above 90% in studies. For this, he said, a complete change of mindset is required to de-stress the children and make them innovative.

“Knowledge construction will be done by the children themselves, but we will have to create the conducive environment. We will have to facilitate and encourage divergent thinking for innovation and creativity among the children,” Senapaty said.

Ratnesh Jha, chair, Ficci publishing committee and MD, Cambridge University Press, said the maximum impact on mind happens in early age and publishers have a huge business opportunity in children's literature to provide customised and diverse content on different platforms both for school text books and leisure reading.

Karthika VK, co-chair, Ficci publishing committee and publisher, Westland, said, “We need a lot of diversity in the content we create, in world views and points of view amongst us that allows us to engage with each other. We need many kinds of children, many kinds of students, many kinds of books and I hope Scrapbook will allow us to think further on all of these aspects."

Meanwhile, Ficci, in partnership with Grant Thornton, will be preparing a survey-based study on book buying behaviour with a chapter on children's books.

The event also saw the announcement of jury members of Ficci Publishing Awards.