Nayi Dhara, one of India’s oldest Hindi literary magazines, in collaboration with Pratham Education Foundation and Rekhta Foundation, has produced a series of audio stories for children, KAHANI TRAIN. KAHANI TRAIN is an innovative initiative to engage young children with language and literacy.

It is alarming that of the 26 million Indian children who enter first grade each year, half will reach fifth grade unable to read or write. This problem has been further exacerbated by school closures during the pandemic. Early years are the most significant period of growth and development in a child’s life. Strong foundations in learning in these years are building blocks for higher order skills that have a significant impact on later life outcomes. When children start out with low literacy and numeracy skills, they end up struggling to keep up year after year, and the benefits of later education are lost to them.

National Education Policy (NEP) – 2020 has recognized foundational literacy and numeracy as an urgent and necessary prerequisite to learning. To this end, the Ministry of Education, Government of India launched NIPUN Bharat Mission for FLN with a call for attaining foundational learning for all children in grade 3 by 2027.

Stories are a joyful way to stimulate young mind and the benefits of it are seen not only in developing language skills but in improving understanding across all subjects. Research shows that listening to stories strengthens comprehension, helps hone communication skills and fosters imagination and creativity in children. Once a child’s curiosity is piqued by a story they hear, they are more likely to pick up a book to read, ask questions and actively engage in their own education.

In its pilot phase, KAHANI TRAIN offers 40 Hindi stories for children between the ages of 5 and 10. The stories are a curated mix, diverse in their subject matter and cultural milieu, and will be disseminated through Pratham’s summer camp programme for children, where over one lakh children will benefit from them. The stories will be available for teachers and social workers to engage in discussions and to use as remedial tools.

For Nayi Dhara, the initiative is a part of the year-long celebration of the 100th centenary of Nayi Dhara’s founder, the well-known author, Shri Udaya Raj Sinha. Dr. Pramath Raj Sinha from Nayi Dhara said, “Growing up in a family of Hindi literature stalwarts, stories were a part of my foundational learning. With Nayi Dhara’s latest venture into stories for children, it is coming full circle now, combining my passion for education and my belief that stories can be a vital link in effective early education.”

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