In partnership with the Department of Public Libraries and the Ministry of Cultural Affairs Bangladesh, British Council Bangladesh is implementing the Libraries Unlimited Programme. The main objective of Libraries Unlimited is to ensure improved access to information and knowledge for millions of people in the country. Libraries Unlimited is a five-year intervention which started in 2016, supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF).
As part of the programme, and with the aim of modernising the government public libraries of Bangladesh and increasing numbers of library users, Libraries Unlimited is offering a range of new products like toy bricks in government public libraries.
Our toy bricks activities are simple but unique, through which children are encouraged to read using storytelling sessions. Creative toy bricks play sessions in libraries can foster cognitive skills (creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking - 4C’s) among the children. This also helps them to build their imagination. With toy bricks, children can get engaged in various games such as building 'word castles', play rhyming games, develop reading and comprehension abilities, learn the alphabets and much more. Writing letters on the toy bricks can encourage children to play word games. Books inspired by the toy bricks are available in the public libraries.
The skills learned through these creative sessions are extremely important in an increasingly interconnected and digital world. They are also a great example of how, in an environment with a limited resource, creative brick play can be deployed in very simple ways to enrich children’s learning and develop critical thinking.
Partnering with SOHO Impact, Libraries Unlimited have already distributed 1.28 million toy bricks to 64 government public libraries of Bangladesh. Each of the libraries received 11,500 toy brick sets. To ensure effective implementation of the programme, we are also integrating:
Curriculum development for structured brick play workshop in the library
A curriculum has been designed for structured brick-play workshops in libraries.
Training of the Trainers
To ensure the availability of trained staffs in libraries, a total of 128 staff from 64 libraries have received facilitation training called, ‘Training of Trainers’ (ToT). During these ToT’s, Libraries Unlimited team received instant feedback from the participants. Muhammad Saidur Rahman, Librarian, District Govt. Public Library, Bagerhat believes that brick will play a vital role for the extension of library services and will increase the number of participants as the children are more likely to engage with the project for fun activities.
64 kick-off events are planned to be delivered in 64 districts. These events will raise awareness among the stakeholders about bricks play through consultation and hands-on sessions with the children.
Structured brick play workshop in libraries
After the kick-off events and the Training of Trainers, structured brick play workshops will be organised in libraries regularly. Through participating in the structured event, around 250 children have already learned using toy bricks and their responses were overwhelming. Tonmoy Biswas, a 9-year-old student and a participant of one of the structured brick play sessions stated “I do not get enough time after school and studies. But if I can play and build new things with bricks in libraries, I will be going there regularly.”
Unguided brick play in libraries throughout the year
Beyond all the structured activities, the bricks are now available in all the 64 libraries and children are coming and enjoying creative play with toy bricks. The responses of the parents and teachers about the unstructured sessions were very positive. Madhuri Rani das, Teacher of a government primary school mentioned, “Every child should go to library because they will get the opportunity to enhance their knowledge by reading more books outside of their regular textbooks. They will really enjoy this toy brick play.”
Creative brick play sessions in libraries will help Bangladesh achieve its very own Vision 2021 and other global development objectives. To assess the impacts of this brick play sessions in the libraries, the British Council is working to develop a robust monitoring and evaluation system as well.