Kareena Kapoor Khan, UNICEF India Celebrity Advocate promotes foundational learning for young children

Kareena Kapoor Khan

Mumbai/IBNS: Bollywood star and UNICEF India Celebrity Advocate Kareena Kapoor Khan on Saturday visited Mitha Nagar Municipal School in Goregaon (West), Mumbai, to promote foundational learning (in early grades) and to support the #EveryChildReading Movement in the state that will be launched in April 2023.

In her interaction with teachers and primacy grade children Kareena Kapoor Khan took a keen interest to understand how children coped with learning during and after the pandemic. 

She underlined how important it is for children to learn early to read, write and count; and the importance of offering learning options in children’s mother tongue. She then engaged children in a fun storytelling session where she read an interactive story to stimulate their imagination.

The National Education Policy 2020 highlights that the ability to reading with understanding, along with writing and performing basic operations with numbers is the ‘necessary foundation and an indispensable prerequisite for all future schooling and lifelong learning.’ The Government of India’s National Initiative for Proficiency in Reading with Understanding and Numeracy (NIPUN) Mission aims to achieve the goal of universal proficiency in literacy and numeracy for every child by grade 3 by 2026-27.

As per National Assessment Survey, conducted in November 2021, more than 30 per cent children in Grade 3 in Maharashtra, are unable to read small texts. By Grade 5, this number increases to 41 per cent of children not being able to read text appropriate to their grade level and to 43 per cent in grade 8.

Launched by the Education Department, Government of Maharashtra in partnership with UNICEF and Pratham Books in 2020, the reading campaign, Goshtiche Shaniwar (or Reading Saturdays) provides children with one storybook every week, to promote their emotional well-being, as well as support their language proficiency. Under the campaign, one story each in Marathi, Urdu, and English is being shared with students in grades 1-8 every Saturday. The campaign covered all the 36 districts of Maharashtra and reached over 1 lakh schools, 2.6 lakh teachers, and 31 lakh children.

“Today I met with young children and saw their immense enthusiasm to read and learn. As a mother, I understand the power of reading and storytelling that can inspire and motivate young minds, especially if it’s in a language that they understand well,” Kareena Kapoor Khan said.

“We need to create an environment where children would love to learn.  School is one such space, and the learning environment at home is equally important. We need to make these spaces supporting and interesting for children to want to read.  Teachers, parents, grandparents, can all help young children learn skills that will help them life-long.”

Rajeshwari Chandrasekar, Chief, UNICEF Maharashtra said, “It’s essential that we focus on foundational learning and equip our children with the basic skills they need to succeed in life. This includes reading, writing, and basic numeracy skills. Through initiatives like the Goshtiche Shaniwar Reading Campaign and #EveryChildReading Movement, we can inspire every citizen in the state to play their role in ensuring every child reading..  With a strong foundation in place, children not only can enjoy the magic of stories but also unlock their full potential and thrive in the future.”

Zafrin Chowdhury, Chief, Communication Advocacy & Partnership, UNICEF India said, “We appreciate Kareena Kapoor Khan for taking the time for today’s visit and encouraging children to read with joy and all of us to support in providing children with a learning environment. UNICEF India greatly values the relationship with Ms. Khan as a Celebrity Advocate and her support in spotlighting children’s issues over the past decade.”

UNICEF works closely with the government at national and state level and provided technical inputs for the national guidelines for foundational learning developed by the Ministry of Education. In collaboration with the Government of India, UNICEF has supported the first ever foundational learning study conducted in the country in March 2022. UNICEF continues to provide technical support to state governments in developing and implementing their five-year plans for NIPUN Bharat, the Foundational Literacy and Numeracy Mission.