Meet Ngurang Meena who is on a mission to remove the tag of the second lowest literacy state, Arunachal by promoting street and outdoor libraries.
A young female teacher of Arunachal who initiated the street library concept to nurture the habit of reading among students as well as adults from her own collection free of cost now establishing libraries in several government schools of capital with the collaboration of the District Administration of Papum pare.
On 9 March 2023, Ngurang Meena was among the nine women of the state who were conferred the Women's Achiever award at Itanagar in the field of Education and training category.
Earlier in 2020 due to the lockdown of schools, and colleges and only online classes as an option students of Nirjuli town of Arunachal got the opportunity to read books from the street library setup by Ngurang learning Institute of Ngurang Meena teacher by profession.
Ngurang Meena from a small town kinin of Arunachal Pradesh set up a 24x7 street Library with just a rack loaded with books and a couple of wooden benches for the readers by the road.
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Ngurang Meena talking to India TodayNE apprised about the motto for establishing a small library funded by her own. Meena stated that she began this concept in 2020 amid the pandemic as due to lockdown students opting for online classes always stuck to their smartphones for reading also, which is causing health hazards including sleeping disorders. A habit of reading improves grammar and improves the power of imagination which the younger generation is forgetting. She has many autobiographical books, knowledge, scientific and other books for all age groups.
In 2021 she apprised that Books are kept open on street even at night hours and when asked about the fear of stealing Meena explained that people are very honest and so far no books have been stolen from the open rack and she is not worried because even if it gets stolen, I will be glad as it will be of some purpose to the thief. What can a person do with a book other than reading And said that she believes Thieves don't read & readers don't steal.
But now Meena is disheartened about the scenario as many street libraries established by her got dismantled & books got stolen, and now she is changing her concept & establishing libraries inside the school campus of various towns of Arunachal Pradesh.
Children under ten and working women are most frequent visitors to the one of its kind library in the state.Meena also permit students to lend books from this library for Maximum fifteen days freeof cost.
Ngurang Meena's father, the late Ngurang Pinch, thrived despite his poverty. He was always reading, learning, inquiring. His resilient attitude made him an excellent orator and social worker. I admired his spirit and his passion, I wanted to be just like him. He introduced me to non-fiction books during my school days as he was travelling for his political work then – he was an MLA from the Doimukh constituency of the state – and that had exposed him to books.
Meena want to extend this street library into every village and town of Arunachal Pradesh, which has more wine shops than bookstores. Considering the positive effect of this street library on people, many volunteers have come ahead to donate books for the rack. Some have helped with cash to buy more books for the library.We hope our humble initiative will encourage other youth leaders in every district to start one in their own villages to infuse a taste for reading in the people of Arunachal Pradesh.
One student expressed his happiness for availing the street library which helps him to read knowledgeable books free of cost .
An initiative undertaken by the Ngurang Learning Institute & District Administration; the effort aims to install nearly 26 libraries across Papumpare.
The DC Papum Pare Sachin Rana informed that “the district administration, in collaboration with the Ngurang Learning Institute, will set up 26 street libraries across Papum Pare.”
He requested readers to “handle the books with care and donate books voluntarily."
Ngurang Learning Institute chairperson Ngurang Meena, reigning Miss Arunachal Nabam Yate, HoDs, and others were present on the occasion of establishment of library in Government school of Naharlagun.
“A woman on (a) mission”, Ngurang Meena has ventured into a soulful journey to uplift and educate the community by instilling in young and old alike the habit of reading. In her own words, she is “on a mission to outnumber the wine shops in Arunachal with Street Libraries.”
During the first wave of the pandemic in 2020, when the whole world was under lockdown Meena while scrolling through Facebook stumbled upon an inspiring story of roadside Libraries running in Mizoram.
This intrigued the young woman to initiate a similar endeavor in Arunachal Pradesh where she felt youths were losing attraction towards reading. Her personal experience further convinced her that it was not the eagerness to learn but the lack of access to learning materials that stopped many to take up reading. During her childhood, she didn’t have the privilege of reading more books because it was not easily accessible. But her father whom she considers an inspiration always encouraged her to read more even though he could not get much education hailing from a remote village kimin.
Arunachal Pradesh with an abysmal literacy rate of 65.38 % as per Census 2011 is in dire need of revamping its educational policies. “With the advent of internet and technology, the books have further been relegated to the sideline”, opines Meena. This is where the Roadside Libraries by Ngurang Meena hope to bridge the gap.
Her endeavor has been appreciated from all quarters of life. She was appreciated by CM Pema Khandu as well as PM Modi in his Mann ki Baat programme for her exemplary work.
Meena continues to do her bit. Recently she has started installing home libraries to help empower the students and children to read books. Her Love Laugh Read initiative continues to touch the lives of many. Her indomitable spirit continues to inspire young and old alike. Her dream of outnumbering wine shops with street libraries hopefully will come true soon as the movement she has started showing promising results.
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