16th Children’s Literature Festival concluded in Karachi

By Farhan Khan
Karachi: The 4th Teacher’s Literature Festival (TLF) and the 16th Children’s Literature Festival (CLF) in the country and 2nd one in Karachi was successfully concluded by Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) and Oxford University Press (OUP) on February, 28th, 2015  at the Arts Council of Pakistan in Karachi. This year CLF was being held in support of the ‘I am Karachi’ campaign that aims to inculcate a sense of hope, pride and ownership in the citizens of Karachi to collectively strive for a peaceful city.

The festivities of the day began and schools with students started coming in large numbers despite the rain. Later in the day, families started pouring in faster than the rain. The highlight of the day came forward at the very start of the day which was a theater performance, a re-adaptation of the story of Aladdin, given by NAPA. The hall filled to the brim as students kept coming in, and the actors did an excellent job of engaging as well as entertaining the students. Since cheers and laughter followed each dialogue. Along with NAPA, several theatre workshops and performances were also given out which Anwer Jafri’s theatre performance, ‘Buriya ki Pitaari’, stood out.

Notable personalities from the field of Academia and Literary World including Rumana Hussain, Amra Alam, Zubeida Mustafa, and many others actively participated in CLF as contributors and moderators for all three days. Dr. Fazlullah Pechuho, Additional Chief Secretary, Education and Literacy Program, Sindh also supported the event with full fervor.

Dr. Ruth Pfau (born 9 September 1929) is a German nun and a member of the Society of Daughters of the Heart of Mary who has devoted the last 50 years of life to fighting leprosy in Pakistan also joined the panel for the Launch of the book “Roshni key Meenar.”

Ayesha Omer and Musharraf Ali Farooqi conducted story telling sessions while Zambeel conducted dramatic reading. Along with dramatic reading and storytelling sessions, other interesting sessions were also conducted at day two of CLF. The festival provided the attendees with the opportunity to understand as well as celebrate their culture and heritage with sessions such as Compassionate Karachi by Charter for Compassion Pakistan; Learning from History by Shaha Jamshed and Heritage Architecture and its relevance to the future of Architectural Identity in Pakistan. The message of peace, compassion and prosperity was carried on for all three days and on day two of CLF sessions like Positive Pakistan by Syed Nusrat Ali; Story on Five Fingers based on Human Values which to lead to peace by Khalida Saadat; Let’s Sing for Peace by Nimet Ebrahim. Maria Memon conducted an interactive session for those hoping to become media persons, titled ‘What does it take to be a Journalist/ Broadcaster’. Sidra Iqbal conducted a thought provoking, titled ‘How to Dream a Bigger Dream – Nothing is impossible’.

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A dialogue and action-protect titled ‘Talking Across Generations on Ending Child Marriages and Education for All’ was conducted to highlight the recent case of a 9 years old, ‘Shehzadi Rustam’, who was kidnapped and then married to her uncle. The purpose of this session was to create awareness about the issue of child marriages as well as exploring the possible actions which can be taken to rescue Shahzadi.

CLF also hosted several book launches on the second day, including Roshni key Meenar; City Tales and Village Tales and many others. For avid book readers, sessions like ‘Fun with Words’ and the ‘Joy of Reading’ generated a lot of interest.

The closing ceremony to mark the end of the three day festival, Teacher’s Literature Festival (TLF) as well as Children’s Literature Festival (CLF), was a phenomenal way to end the celebrations. The ceremony started with a dance performance by the students of Sheema Kermani and a Qawwali performance, Man Kunto Maula, was sung by students of Karachi High School. Awards for Best School Banners were handed out followed by the announcement of Anita Ghulam Ali Awards for the winners. The day came to an end with acknowledgements given by Rumana Hussain in which she thanked the participants for their support and commemorated the resource persons for contributing and making the festival a success.

At the CLF, attendees also had a chance to learn about newly emerging media and technology that can be used to revolutionize the experience of classrooms for students, organized by Toffee TV and 3iLogic. Ilm Ideas, Dheree Bolo, HBL Money Club Money Maza, Sindh Reading Project, Sindh Education Foundation (SEF) and several other organizations set up multi-sensory stalls to introduce methodologies which can be used to make teaching a more interactive experience for children.

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Several interactive and learning sessions such as Wings of Freedom by Zheela Ali Khan, Bacho say Tabdeeli and many others were also conducted to making CLF a wholesome experience.

Earlier, the festivities of the day began with a heart-warming opening ceremony, with splendid performances by the ‘Mandir Masjid’ Choir of Karachi High School and students from the Garage School. The Welcome Address was given by Baela Raza Jamil, Founder of CLF and Director Programs ITA. Wajiha Naqvi, Founding Member, I am Karachi; Nargis Sultana, Senior Program Officer Open Society Foundations (OSF); Owais Sheikh, Head of Liabilities HBL; and Dr. Fazlullah Pechuho, Additional Chief Secretary, Education and Literacy Program, Sindh also addressed the students, teachers, resource persons, guests and others present at the ceremony.

In lieu with efforts of I am Karachi and the troubling security situation of the country, this year CLF’s main focus was on promoting a message of peace. Hence, this CLF was dedicated to the survivors of the Peshawar Attack that took place at the Army Public School (APS) on December 16, 2014. Eleven of these young survivors and their parents as well as mothers of four of the students, who lost their lives in the incident, attended the CLF. They were welcomed by a cheering crowd that also gave them a standing ovation. Asfand, a victim of the Peshawar incident – his mother shared her thoughts about the ceremony and the loss of her son. While Saad, a survivor of the incident, also told his story and thanked the organizing committee of CLF and the attendees for their support. When the survivors shared their stories and their thoughts, no one at the ceremony could manage to keep a dry eye. With passion in their hearts and tears in their eyes, the crowd commemorated these brave ones while students from other schools vowed to become dedicated students.

An animation video was also included in the ceremony, titled Tribute to the Children of Peshawar, facilitated by Fauzia Minallah, Member, Board of Directors, CLF. The ceremony ended with the traditional balloon releasing ritual after the official countdown to mark the start of the festival. The national anthem was also sung by the crowd in union, with solemnity.

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Notable personalities from the field of Academia and Literary World including Haseena Moin, Rumana Hussain, Amra Alam, Zubeida Mustafa, Fahmida Riaz, Adeel Hashmi, and many others actively participated in CLF as contributors and moderators. Adnan Siddiqui and Sharmila Farooqi gave exceptional story telling performances which the children thoroughly enjoyed.

Along with dramatic reading and storytelling sessions, other interesting sessions were also conducted at CLF. With ‘Khichri of Curriculum and Language’, experts looked at the presently taught and discussed how the curriculum can be made more relatable for the children. Sarwat Gillani conducted a session titled ‘Recycled Pakistan’ which featured a life size art piece created by students under her direction. While sessions such as ‘Superhero Me!’, ‘Amai and the Bird of Light’ and workshops such ‘Stop Motion Short Films’ generated a lot of interest from the students. Dheree Bolo also organized a concert for the children with Children’s songs in Urdu. Cheers and sound of clapping could be heard at the festival throughout the day.

CLF also hosted several book launches this year by CLF publications, including Rumana Hussain’s Tota Khan Aur Bakri Ara ka Safarnama; Literary Heritage Series for Young Readers by Fahmida Riaz and many others. The 8th Edition of CLF’s publication, Uran Tashtaree, was also launched at the event.

At the CLF, attendees also had a chance to learn about newly emerging media and technology that can be used to revolutionize the experience of classrooms for students, organized by Toffee TV and 3iLogic. Ilm Ideas, Dheree Bolo, HBL Money Club Money Maza, Sindh Reading Project, Sindh Education Foundation (SEF) and several other organizations set up multi-sensory stalls to introduce methodologies which can be used to make teaching a more interactive experience for children.

Several interactive and learning sessions such as Wings of Freedom by Zheela Ali Khan, Peace for Pakistan by Salma Habib and many others were also conducted to making CLF a wholesome experience. Students from schools from all over Karachi participated in the festival in large numbers to make CLF, day one, a huge success.

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