Believing in the maxim, the pen is mightier than the sword, youngsters residing in a remote village of Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh, have joined hands to build a community library, to inspire the locals onto a path of reading and exploring books.

Utilizing a dilapidated government structure, these students donned the hats of masons and carpenters and gave life to the system by building a community library. The work was completed in around 40 days under the All Tawang District Students’ Union (ATDSU). The ATDSU pointed that the “district library” in the town was not sufficient in terms of meeting the standards and could not cater to all citizens

Image Credits: The New Indian Express

Such was the impact of their noble initiative that Chief Minister Arunachal Pradesh Pema Khandu lauded their efforts in a tweet, saying,

“Students from #Tawang worked together to build this beautiful #CommunityLibrary. Students did the entire construction work of reinforcing, shuttering, carpentry, masonry, roofing, etc were all done by students. Due to the hard-working environment, average youths here possess such work skills.”

The cost of the library amounted to roughly Rs 6.5 lakh. The library is half-concrete and half-wooden while the roofing was completed with CGI sheets. This came from the union’s fund, and the initiative has received a significant push from various well-wishers.

Tsering feels the community library will be unique from other libraries in the state. It will mainly have motivational books, comic books, adventure books for children.

Over some time, 

more people became aware of the library’s existence through social media and are now stepping forward to share books for others to read. A good number of local students have also shared many books of different categories with the library.

Image Credits: CitizenePress

Pema Tsering, who is a student leader and in charge of the library construction committee, told a media house,

“Tawang is a remote district, and books are a rarity here. We also observed that not many people have the knack for reading books these days. So, we wanted to inspire them to get back to this habit of reading books and develop it among the younger lot.”

“We have no doubt the youth will get motivated to read more and more and develop the habit of reading books. We will hand the library over to the state’s education department for its efficient management,” Tsering says.

Educational Background of Tawang

The district has 57 primary schools, 23 middle primary schools, 4 secondary schools and 4 higher secondary schools. The community has no college, which denotes the lack of higher education facilities in the hilly district. Historically education has been a laggard field in the entire state, schools coming into existence only at the start of the 20th century. As per the 7th All India Educational Survey (2002), there are 231 habitations in Tawang, out of which 31.16 percent have primary schooling facilities within them, in 15.58 percent within 1 k.m. and in 53.24 percent of them, this facility is located at a distance beyond one k.m.

Image Credits: The Logical Indian

Similarly, upper primary schools are located within the habitations in 8.65 percent, within 3 k.m. distance in 38.52 percent, and beyond 3 k.m. in 52.81 percent of the cases.As per the survey report, the enrollment figures in classes I-XII reveal a marked decrease of students with an increase of types. While there were 1242 students in type I, it is 121 in class X. There are no enrollments in courses XI and XII. The educational index calculated based on adult literacy and the Gross Enrollment Ration (GER) for the district is 0.472, which in terms of rankings among all the districts is Rank 12. Moreover, inaccessible hilly terrain and scattered habitations result in poor access to educational facilities and medical facilities.

These numbers point to the fact that Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh needs a revamp in the educational aspect and to foster a culture of learning  for a brighter future.

ATDSU’s efforts in overseeing the students’ efforts is exemplary and something that other student union bodies must look to adopt in other states of India. The fact that a dilapidated structure was given a defined infrastructure purpose in under 40 days shows the unity and the collaboration with which the students worked under the mentorship of the ATDSU. The ATDSU’s job in mentoring and guiding the young students who turned masons and carpenters is indeed commendable.

Reading is a habit that people across all ages must teach as a part of their lifestyle. It not only broadens your vision but also makes you aware of the environment, the country that you live in. Young students leading by example to inspire people to read more by building a community library is not a giant step but a significant one in enabling several such developmental initiatives to spread the culture of reading and foster a learning culture.

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