NEW DELHI: Schoolchildren in a small village in India’s Bihar state have discovered the joys of reading after their school principal designed and funded a school library.
The aircraft-shaped library in Sivaisinghpur is the first in the village and surrounding areas. The rural literacy rate in Bihar is only about 45 percent — among the lowest in India.
Children enter the library room by climbing a set of steps resembling an airstair.
Meghan Sahani, who for the past four years has served as the principal of the Sivaisinghpur Junior High School in Samastipur district, funded the library from his own pocket.
“The funding for education is very minimal in the state and it’s not easy to have a public-funded school library, so I took the initiative,” Sahani told Arab News. “I really felt that students in the village need exposure to good education and books, besides courses.”
“Education is key to changing lives in this rural area,” he said.
The father of four designed the library himself to attract children to reading. He wanted to connect the joy of learning with the excitement of boarding an aircraft to explore the world.
And that is what students say they feel when they enter the aircraft library’s “cockpit” and sit down with books across its port and starboard.
“The library opens a new world for me in this small village,” eighth grade student Anita Kumari told Arab News.
Her classmate, Lovely Kumari, said that the library was “a space where the book is the only companion,” and where she can think about her future goals.
For another student, Adarsh Chouhan, the library is a place where he can focus on learning. “At home, you are disturbed and distracted,” he said. “The library provides private space and an opportunity to explore more.”
Opened on Jan. 10, the aircraft library now features a collection of 500 volumes. The number of available books is rapidly growing due to local donations, Sahani said.
“The library has created a buzz in the surrounding areas and has become a curiosity among students,” he added. “I am happy with this development.”
The district education department also supports the initiative, although it says it cannot help out due to funding constraints.
“We support the principal’s work and give our moral support to the initiative,” Madan Roy, district education officer, told Arab News.
“Unfortunately, the government does not have funds for such a library, but we are happy that this one has come up.”