By Farhan Khan

Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) of Oxford University Press, with the support of ‘I AM KARACHI’ consortium is going to organize fourth Teacher’s Literature Festival (TLF) on February 26, 2015 and 16th Children Literature Festival (CLF) on 27 & 28 February, 2015 at the Arts Council Karachi, informed Rumana Hussain, a well -known writer, civil society activists and one of the founding member of ‘I AM KARACHI’ consortium.  These festivals will be opened for general public with NO entry charges.

She said, ‘I M KARACHI’ has 30 founding members from different field of life and more than hundred organizations are part of this consortium.  These festivals are part of I M KARACHI cultural activities, working to promote peace and tolerance in the society having violence and law and order issues.  The objective of these festivals is to promote reading and encourage creative writing’.  She further stated that more than 4,000 teachers and 30,000 children were expected to attend these festivals.

Ahmed Shah, Secretary Arts Council Karachi stated that the whole city wanted peace in beloved Karachi, with no prejudice on sectarian, ethnic and political basis.  He said, “If you go to any part of the world, their citizen owned their places”. He disclosed that he was among the founding member s of ‘I AM KARACHI’ consortium with is apolitical and unbiased entity, working to promote peace and curb violence by encouraging cultural and social activities in Karachi.

Amina Saiyid, Managing Director of Oxford University Press said, we want to encourage reading in Children, so that they become habitual of reading. She also appealed through media to help spread the network of libraries in Pakistan. She asked the media to promote Pakistani writers who were busy writing informative books to be incorporated their work in children curriculum.

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Teachers’ Literature Festival is a new component of CLF that was added in 2014 to embed the culture of reading and critical thinking in classrooms. For the 2nd time in Karachi, Teachers’ Literature Festival will be held which will be a day-long programme, exclusively for the teachers on core concept and practices of CLFs encouraging them to make their classrooms and schools implement them practically.

The TLF is going to include sessions ranging from Reading with Expression, Creative Writing, Use of New Media in the Classrooms, Book Launches and Teachers’ Voices.

On each of the three days this is a free Public event for ALL school systems of Karachi and Sindh from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm of 14 learning multisensory programmes to promote the culture of reading for creativity, imagination and stimulation beyond textbooks and tests.

This year, CLF is being held under the banner of ‘I am Karachi’. In response to the growing issue of violence in Karachi, concerned citizens and civil society organizations have launched a peace campaign called ‘I AM KARACHI’ which aims to inculcate hope, pride and ownership in the citizens of Karachi to collectively strive for a peaceful city. The campaign is led by a consortium which includes 30 notable individuals of Karachi (including Rumana Husain and Ahmed Shah) and 100 plus civil society organizations from across Karachi.

This was revealed in a press conference on the 11th of February 2015, addressed by the co-founder of CLF, Ameena Saiyid, Member of ‘I am Karachi’ consortium, Rumana Husain, CLF Programme Manager, Maham Ali, Head of Liabilities HBL, Owais Sheikh and General Secretary Arts Council and Member of ‘I am Karachi’ consortium, Ahmed Shah.

Quotes of panelists:

Rumana Husain, a member of the ‘I am Karachi’ consortium spoke about the importance and relevance of holding such festivals in the context of growing intolerance and divide in the society. “As a direct objective of the ‘I am Karachi campaign’ which is to reclaim public spaces, it is necessary to create and nurture environments and spaces for greater social and cultural engagement in the city, particularly with children and teachers at the foundation of a social fabric of society” she asserted.

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Ahmed Shah showed concern over the worsening law and order situation of the city and said that once Karachi used to be the city of lights, but peace of the city was put on stake in the name of race, ethnicity, religion and sect. “We are striving to engage youth in positive activities and make them peace ambassadors, because this is the fight against hatred, ignorance and intolerance. Through ‘I am Karachi’ campaign, we want to secure the future of our new generation and reclaim and reinvent our city.” he said.

“Mein akela hi chala thha jaanib-e- manzil magar, Loag saath aatey gayey aur karwaaN banta gaya”. This is so true that we two, Baela Jamil and myself began this and took it forward—from CLF year after year and then TLF, also. We took the first steps and now there are sponsors, writers, supporters and participants for these eagerly awaited and attended Literature Festivals that promote education, knowledge and critical thinking as well as enjoyment” said Ameena Saiyid, while addressing the press conference

The Children’s Literature Festival was founded in collaboration with like-minded stakeholders, including publishers, government, CSOs and corporate partners to explore large public spaces for learning. CLF is an Equalizer which enables children from all school systems to explore the world of expression, reading and imagination beyond textbooks.

CLF is open to all children from all segments and school systems, as well as, their teachers and parents for an experience to remember and replicate, when they go back to their schools and homes. CLF has reached the level of popularity through support of eminent authors, poets, artists, actors, musicians, and trainers etc. who give their time free of cost in the spirit of ‘giving back to society’. To date over 150 such celebrities/institutions of all ages have joined hands with CLF.

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Celebrities and prominent personalities of Pakistan, such as Anwar Maqsood, Saba Hameed, Ayesha Omar, Sidra Iqbal, Maria Memon, Zubeida Mustafa, Dr. Arfa Syeda Zehra, Adeel Hashmi, Khaled Anam, Arshad Mahmud, Sharmila Faruqi, Haseena Moin, Amra Alam, Rumana Husain, Zambeel Dramatic Readings, Toffee TV and many more will be participating at the CLF Karachi 2015

In 2013 CLF began its series of publications the bi-monthly magazine Uran Tashtaree (Flying Saucer) edited by the famous author Amra Alam and three books for children by Rumana Husain. CLF’s children’s publication written by Rumana Husain “Tota Khan aur Bakri Ara ka Safarnama” will be launched at the TLF/CLF Karachi.  In the coming years, young children authors’ works will be published, as well, through the CLF platform.

In three years CLF has reached over 335,000 children /teachers, each time going beyond planned targets, as a non-gated event to allow access in an organized manner to large number of schools and public. Each session is sensitive to the principles of inclusion, local languages and participation of ALL children.

Main Partners of CLF are Oxford University Press, Open Society Foundations, Ilm Ideas, HBL, Dubai Cares, Arts Council of Pakistan-Karachi.

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