On 8th, 11th and 12th April, CKS, in collaboration with Worldreader conducted training workshops with Katha, Society for All Round Development (SARD) and Hindustan Latex Family Planning Promotion Trust (HLFPPT). The preceding workshop held on the 4th April workshop officially launched the next leg of the Reads to Kids pilot program in India, with introductions of implementing partners, organizational expertise, reasons for collaboration and goals of the Read to Kids program. The three day training focused on providing a hands on experience in storytelling, using the ‘Read to Kids’ portal and sharing past experiences from the field. Participants from partner organisation included community mobilizers and project managers who would be reaching out to the target users for this pilot.
Rituparna Ghosh, a professional storyteller from Your Story Bag began each day with narrating visually rich stories, using animated sounds, body movements, facial expressions and voice modulations, setting an informal and lighthearted tone to the workshop that followed. Her storytelling energized the audience, pulled in and engaged the participants to share, tell and read out stories from the Read to Kids portal with sounds, intonations and gestures uninhibitedly. Ritu’s session was an opportunity for participants to come out of their shell and do things out of their daily professional duties.
In each of the three training sessions, Ritu emphasized the need of making stories addictive to its listeners especially children-“Bachho ko kahani ki lat laga do”. The story, she said, should be both a reward and means of punishment for children. “Innovation is necessary to tell stories, and telling stories from a phone presents new challenges” she said. Stories have to be made more attractive than rest of the attractions that a smartphone provides to a child. She laid out a step by step approach of using storytelling to bring people to the Read to Kids platform “Once the child gets hooked to a story, introduce the phone and once the child is attentive to a story introduce the portal”. Ritu presented the participants with reading tips that they can share with parents and caregivers to make simple storytelling more exciting for 0-3 year old children. According to her, the parents and caregivers should understand the importance of how a child feels after hearing a story, rather than what a child learns from them. Her session and her presentation on the cognitive, emotional and social benefits of storytelling set the participants at ease for the next sessions.
After storytelling, all participants in each training were taken through a live demonstration of the Read to Kids portal. They were shown how to log in, register, find and read books from the the portal. To simulate a feeling of unfamiliarity that participants might encounter when on field registered parents and caregivers onto the portal, they were asked to exchange handsets. The participants actively took part in this exercise and also shared their feedback on the application One of the participants suggested for a help box in the portal as she felt that as an activator she might not be present to help her users in the field in case they have any query regarding the usage of read to kids portal , therefore a query box or a help box would be helpful.
The last session of each of the training day was conducted by the CKS team. It was a highly interactive session that included brainstorming the challenges related to literacy, gendered access to technology and the time constraints of target users that each of the implementing partners will face in the field. Participants were encouraged to brainstorm possible solutions to these challenges and role play the life situations of the target users of read to kids portal. The overall objective of the CKS session was to get the participants to think about the ways of effective communicating in the field,the benefits of reading and access to free books through ‘Read to kids’ portal.
The session closed with a brief discussion on importance of effective project monitoring and evaluation which will inform the learning in the coming year.