A unique movement unfolds in Pakistan

Where in the world would you see over a 100 forms of expression urging children to read, write and create? The 11th Children’s Literature Festival and the first Teachers Literature Festival (TLF) in Karachi from February 20-22, 2014 achieved just that.  The concurrent strands over three days included:

  • Molka Deo Sahab Bakery Walay (Mokka Deo the Baker)  by the famous children’s author  Mosharraf Ali Farooqui read by Zambeel
  • Dramatic Readings, the art of new media by Sabeen Mehmud of T2F, Bolo Bhi, Azra Hussain  and mobile film making by the Tentative Collective
  • Reading, Writing and Theatre Workshops by  Rumana Husain, Asif Farrukhi,  Shanta Dixit (Nepal), Asad Mian,  Qissa Farosh etc
  • Teachers and Literature by Shahid Siddiqui
  • the Language quandary by Zubeida Mustafa
  • Ayub Baloch Adal Soomro and Raj Wali Khattak
  • Teachers Voices, 11,000 years of  heritage by Asma Ibrahim and Ayub Baloch
  • Puppets/Theatre/Dance sessions by Toffee TV, Ritz Theatre, Shayma Saiyid
  • Bol-Kay Lab Azad Hain a free speak by budding authors and poets (age 5-17)
  • Music workshops/CLF anthem by Rakae Jamil, Yousaf Keri and Asif Sinan
  • interactive libraries and reading  techniques
  • mural painting with children by Khuda Bux Abro, Fauzia MInallah and Artpreneurs for Change
  • over 20 book launches, some read by children themselves, and
  • an amazing Book Fair!

Each note and rhythm was experienced through all senses indeed to make many ragas and stories. Fourteen strands have been indigenously crafted over two years for the CLF/TLF Karachi by the finest minds and hearts of Pakistan. This is a unique JOURNEY for children, youth and educators that is worth sharing; just less than 30 months old, attended by over 150,000 participants, its footprint is deeply embedded across geographies within and beyond the borders of Pakistan.  At a time of intense conflict, confusion and displacement in the country the CLFs/TLFs create unique spaces for learning, healing and feeling in Pakistan; these are held as zones of peace, critical thinking and creativity. From large formats the CLF has been tested at school levels; from a three day to a one day event to impact classroom and school cultures with manageable costs and scalability.

Social movements for education and learning are on the rise globally innovating and creating unique formats for social capital creation that have the potential to put some flesh to the notion of education as an EQUALIZER. Triggered by the alarming levels of learning as mapped by large scale citizen led assessments such as ASER Pakistan and India, UWEZO in East Africa etc., the idea for a children’s literature festival (CLF) was generated through a consultative process facilitated by Open Society Foundations (OSF) in 2011 as an innovation to unlock the power of learning. CLF was conceptualized inclusively for ALL school systems to explore with children, teachers and parents the possibilities of promoting reading as a multi-sensory experience supported by the best and emerging authors/theatre groups/ musicians and artists in writing and expression.

The CLF and TLF have mobilized over 100 authors poets, theatre, artists and new media experts and institutions to lend a hand with all of them giving their  best back to society and children without any consideration! CLF has mobilized young and old Ambassadors to become the spokespersons and frontline passionate speakers.  Idraa-e-Taleem-o-Agahi (ITA) or Centre for Education and Consciousness, and Oxford University Press are the founder and co-founder organizations, respectively. Many sponsors have supported the CLF seeking to create equity and new milestones in learning for happiness and meaning.  The Karachi event was mainly sponsored by the Karachi Youth Initiative (KYI) committed to diversity, peace and tolerance. As aptly expressed by a participant on the comments board ”When life gives you a hundred reasons to cry, show life that you have thousand reasons to smile.”


Baela Raza Jamil works for Idraa-e-Taleem-o-Agahi, Pakistan.

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  • Saheem Khizar

    CLF movement, if adopted massively, can truly revitalize the books’ reading habits in our young generation ..

  • Zaheer Abbas

    a great effort indeed…. many more CLFs and similar initiatives are needed to promote the habit of reading and writing, which is unfortunately dying these days, among the children and youth of the country, and only through these innovative methods we can unfold the hidden talents within the society …..