–CLF 2019 promotes ideas of citizenship, multiculturalism, diversity, gender equality among others
LAHORE: The two-day Children’s Literature Festival (CLF) 2019 held in the provincial capital and based on “Heritage, Expression, and 21st Century skills” is a unique collaboration with the Children Library Complex, Government of Punjab.
Co-founded by Baela Raza Jamil and Ameena Saiyid, this marks the 59th CLF since its inception, which has historically been held in remote and central locations across Pakistan.
The festival serves everyone inclusively, including children, teachers, schools and communities. Many students were showcased as young talent; poets, authors, musicians, artists and scientists.
The CLF is a free public event open to all schools without any discrimination.
However, many of the participating volunteers complained that only government schools were participating.
This year’s CLF promoted the ideas of citizenship, multiculturalism, diversity, sustainable lifestyles, tolerance, and gender equality, among others.
Workshops were held by renowned children’s authors, poets and artists.
There were scientific workshops as well, including those dealing with robotics and tech-enabled digital learning.
Theater, puppetry, film, calligraphy, sports, interactive learning and book stalls were part of the event as well.
According to CLF Project Coordinator Sehrish Farooq, “this is the second time we’ve brought this festival to Lahore. Last year we held it at the Lahore Fort. People from the State Bank are here along with The British Council and Oxford University Press. Any favorable activity one can think of is currently taking place in this festival”.
One of the main attractions to promote Urdu as a language alongside giving children valuable input on morals and ethics was Suno Kahani Meri Zubani.
Talking to Pakistan Today, Sonia Sarmad who is a pioneer of Urdu storytelling and street theater said that “we are promoting the Urdu language, which is a Pakistani child’s mother tongue, and this we do through audio stories. It is very sad how Urdu is neglected and when I couldn’t find any material i.e. books for my own children I began this endeavor and by now it has really blossomed.”
“Our audio stories are available on Facebook and YouTube and alongside this, we do live sessions where ever we are invited,” she added.
“We also do Urdu plays at different public locations, including schools. Today’s parents don’t have much time to give to their children, so we provide stories they can take valuable knowledge from,” she explained.
Mehar Rafi, a mother of two, whose children go to a high-end private school, said that she regrets “that there is little pride in our mother tongue” and added that “she felt proud participating in some of the workshops”.
Rafi explained that she “feels that both government and private schools would benefit from participating in the festival”.
According to the CLF, the festival is an equaliser; a social movement for unlocking the power of reading and learning through multiple types of intelligence and senses. Through the festival and its publications, the CLF has reached 1.3 million children, teachers and families nationwide.