It is the stuff of great literature. Journals and the personal journeys and warmth they imbue have often shaped acclaimed writers and their works. Anne Frank and Virginia Woolf are two names that quickly come to mind. And it is this creative enterprise that Samagra Shiksha Kerala (SSK) seems keen to tap into and develop, stated a report in The New Indian Express.
It all started with the jottings of a Class I student of Koipad Government LP School, in Kollam. The diary took the shape of a book, which paved the way for SSK to allot funds to help schools publish such works by students.
The activities of Samyuktha Diary Bhasha Padanam, aimed at developing language skills of students of Class I and II, helped discover Maheshwar V.
“The idea was to get students to keep a diary of incidents and activities in their lives. This was to enable them to form words and sentences using the letters they are taught in school,” says Saija S, Maheshwar’s teacher. The exercise began on July 11, 2023. “Soon, we realised that Maheshwar was diligent in his efforts,” remembers Saija, who along with Maheshwar’s parents and other teachers were witnessing the birth of a young writer.
Maheshwar would document everything around him. “The students were initially guided by teachers. After they made their entries with pencils, teachers corrected them using pens. The task was later handed over to parents,” notes Saija. In the case of Maheshwar, pencil jottings slowly edged out those made with pens.
“What caught our attention was his attention to detail, language and style. One of the entries was on mayflies,” the teacher recounted.
Those “tiny wings”
He wrote: “Today a swarm of mayflies made its way into the house while I was having supper. Mother closed the door. But the tiny insects continued to get in through the gap between the door and the floor. So father plugged the gap using a piece of cloth. After some time when we opened the door and looked out, we could see only tiny wings, teacher.”
There were many such entries, along with drawings of incidents, in his journal, adds Saija. According to her, Maheshwar kept at it for 100 days. “We found his jottings very interesting and the school decided to publish them as a book. But since we lacked the funds to publish all 100 pages, it was decided to select the best 40 and publish them in accordion book format,” she said.
“We were at the printer’s when a person approached us, evincing interest to publish all 100 pages,” said Saija. Very soon, ‘Ente Omanadivasangal’ will come out, complete with all his entries.
“Chathannoor MLA G S Jayalal has written the foreword. When SSK came to know about the book, the school was asked to make available 14 copies at the Class I cluster training venue. “We were provided the funds for the same,” she added.
Maheshwar’s book has initiated a process that will see all schools in the state with primary classes get Rs 500 for publishing such diaries. Schools will be reimbursed the amount when they submit the books to block resource centres (BRCs) before January 7, 2024. And to publish the best works, BRCs will each be given Rs 1,000. BRCs have to publish the best diaries by January 10, 2024. A total of Rs 47 lakh has been allocated for schools, with Rs 1,68,000 set apart for BRCs.