Monday, July 27, 2009

Community Libraries in Pakistan

One of my colleague's here at Ashoka sent me a profile of an Ashoka fellow in Pakistan that she thought I would be interested in. His name is Asad Danish and he is doing peace-building work, with one of his main outlets in addressing the population: rural community libraries!

Asad Danish is doing peace-building along with development work in Afghanistan. He is addressing the urban Afghan immigrant community and publishing literary and knowledge books. Asad is promoting education and establishing libraries in rural and urban schools by encouraging a book-reading culture and increasing the literacy rate.

The Idea:

Asad is working towards bringing harmony to war-torn Afghanistan and the Pushtoon tribal belt in and along Pakistan in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP). He is focusing on education and learning using publishing, creating libraries and getting to the illiterate masses through radio. His publishing house prints ‘knowledge’ books including dictionaries, how-to books, translations and magazines that bring local wisdom and global knowledge to the Pushtoon people in their own language. He is also distributing popular and easy-to-read publications among the communities.

Asad has established libraries in small towns in Afghanistan, especially in schools. He has introduced the concept of the “Dynamic Librarian”; these librarians are creating reading circles to promote education in local communities. The libraries mobilize government and community resources and the books are donated by Asad’s Danish Publication Association. Asad established the publication house as a for-profit venture that supports him and helps him invest in rebuilding Afghanistan through various community projects. The publishing house targets Pushtoon and other communities in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and does outreach to Afghan and Pakistani communities in Europe, North America and the Middle East. This helps mobilize resources for development in rebuilding Afghanistan.

This sounds like quite an initiative, and it is exciting that the concept of community libraries is proving to be effective, globally.


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