Bertelsmann India Celebrates Joy of Reading
Last Friday, the Bertelsmann Corporate Center in India hosted its own local initiatives to mark International Literacy Day. In 1966, UNESCO proclaimed its first International Literacy Day, and has drawn attention to the problem of illiteracy, and supported projects to promote literacy, every year since. The Corporate Responsibility Team at Bertelsmann India picked up on this idea and gave its employees a chance to share the joy of reading with others.
For one, a survey called on everyone to name the book that had served as the greatest inspiration in their life. It met with great response, with titles being submitted by employees from all of the Group’s divisions in India. The CR team compiled the recommendations and emailed a list of all of them to all employees on Friday. A winner was drawn at random from all the people who had submitted a recommendation, whose prize was a gift of books from Penguin Random House India and Dorling Kindersley (DK) India. "The idea was spread the joy of reading, and what better way than to get fellow employees to motivate each other to read by sharing their personal recommendations for books which had a lasting impact on them. The idea was very well received. We had employees from all divisions participate in this initiative, including MV Balasubrahmanyam, the CEO of Ramyam, a company Arvato recently acquired in India", says Rohit Nuwal, Director at Bertelsmann India Corporate Center.
Gift books and stories
On International Literacy Day, reading and writing was celebrated not only inside the company, but outside, in the community, as well. About 30 colleagues visited a nearby school for underprivileged children to give books from Penguin Random House India and DK India as gifts; some employees even donated books of their own. Besides bringing smiles to the kids’ faces with the gift books, the staff also helped them write their own story by playing an interactive, creative game with them. They would give them just the first part of a sentence, for example: "One day I woke up and looked out the window…" How it went on from there was left entirely to the children’s imagination. "We hope this will inspire the children to form early reading habits that enable them to develop skills outside their formal education and expand their horizon", said Glenda Fernandes, Head of Corporate Communications and Social Responsibility at DK India. In all, Bertelsmann India was able to reach about 300 children between the ages of 9 and 12 with this International Literacy Day efforts.
According to UNESCO statistics, 750 million people worldwide lack basic literacy skills. Of these, nearly 14 percent are young people aged between 15 and 24 years. In the Global Sustainability Agenda, the global community has committed to ensuring, by 2030, the acquisition of basic literacy and ICT skills for all youths and a substantial proportion of adults.