Encouraging learning through stories

Karachi:March 18:A number of elected representatives, teachers and education managers attended a storytelling workshop on Thursday designed to prepare politicians to visit government schools in their constituencies and interact with students and teachers through narrating stories.

The storytelling workshop was a part of School Reading Programme 2016, A project of Children's Literature Festival and Alif Ailaan, to ensure poor learning outcomes are discussed in the national discourse.

Among the political representatives present on the occasion were, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz MPA Haji Shafi Jamote, Pakistan People’s Party MPA Irum Khalid and Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s Irum Azeem Farooq.

Speaking on the occasion, renowned author and storyteller Rumana Husain briefed the audience about the significance of poor learning outcomes in government schools. She said that on a national level, 49 percent of students in class five could not read sentences in English, 50 percent could not do simple two-digit division while 55 percent could not read stories in Urdu meant for the second grade.

Husain, while citing the comparison of provinces in Annual Status of Education Report 2015, said Sindh ranked the lowest in categories of “class five students who could read sentences in English” and in “class five students who could do two-digit math”.

Husain also apprised the participants on techniques of storytelling through reading one of her famous stories “Pari Raani Aur Laal Peela”.

She opined that stories shaped children’s view of the world as they heard about unique places, cultures, experiences and people. “It improves their vocabulary and listening skills and expands their imagination beyond the obvious and the ordinary,” she said. “Storytelling has not only been employed as a learning tool for children, but also a central component of leadership for politicians such as Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Bill Clinton and Barrack Obama.”

Husain added that quality and engaging education was needed today to curtail the increasing drop-out rates from government schools, adding that lessons should encourage imagination than memorisation.

“Children should be encouraged to ask questions, it is very detrimental for their mental growth if they don’t ask,” she remarked.

Members of the Sindh Assembly present on the occasion, offered to present a resolution in the House for observing “Reading Day”.The news.