Pune: Classics have not gone away despite digitisation and access to multiple sources and traditional books or authors have remained primary choices of readers, said Helen Silvester, Director West India of British Council during a press meet for the 70th anniversary of British Council in India at Ramsukh House, near Sancheti Hospital on Saturday. British Council’s Pune library in new premises also celebrated its first anniversary on Saturday.
Silvester said, “There has been no genre shift in reading as parents have been passing books to their children. Books of authors like Agatha Cristie is one of the most picked books among youngsters as well even today, while the Gruffalo series is famous among children. The parents have kept the culture of library alive among children.”
Besides, she also stated that many readers have shifted from reading books of only Indian authors to reading books of British authors as well.
The British Council’s Pune Library has as many as 5,000 to 6,000 active members and over 2,000 members were added on the list in last one year after they shifted to the new premises.
Silvester also said that British Council had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the government of Maharashtra on April 25 to support the government and ensure development in spoken English skills and employability.
The council is working towards driving systematic change by building capacity and capability through continuing professional development of teachers and enriching teaching to improve learner outcomes. It has trained more than a lakh of teachers benefitting around five million learners, with a further 30,000 teachers across Maharashtra to be trained under a new agreement to be signed with the Tata Trust.
“We came across a teacher from a tribal area who wanted to impart English language education to the students but had limited resources. We have created a digital platform for such teachers in the State school, where they can access different books, workshops and sessions that will aid in building the language and help in teaching the students,” she said.
Over the last year, there have been 12 partnerships between higher education institutions in Maharashtra with the UK under the bilateral UK India Education and Research Initiative.
Recently, 100 Indian women were awarded British Council’s 70th Anniversary Scholarship on full fees of academics to scholars going overseas for higher studies to mark the organisation’s 70th anniversary in India. Out of 17 scholars from West India, 14 women scholars are from Maharashtra who have received the prestigious award from British Council and were honoured. Scholars will be studying subjects in STEM fields including computer sciences, biological sciences and physical sciences.