`Khabar Lahariya` bags UNESCO literary prize

Updated: Aug 04, 2009, 00:37 AM IST

United Nations: Nirantar, a non-governmental organisation, which runs "Khabar Lahariya" a fortnightly newspaper in Hindi run by rural women in Uttar Pradesh has bagged the prestigious UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize 2009.

Established in 1989 with support from Government of South Korea, the annual award has also gone to Tin Tua`s Literacy and Non-Formal Education Programme in eastern Burkina Faso, a UNESCO release said. The awards would be presented at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris in December.

Announcing the award, UNESCO said "Khabar Lahariya" meaning "news waves" of a UP NGO Nirantar has created a rural fortnightly newspaper entirely produced and marketed by "low caste" women, distributed to more than 20,000 newly literate readers.

Its well-structured method of training newly literate women as journalists and democratising information production provides an easily replicated model of transformative education.

The newspaper was launched in May 2002 and today the eight-page fortnightly newspaper is a thriving and respected concern with a readership of over 25,000 in more than 400 villages in the Chitrakoot and Banda districts of Uttar Pradesh, UNESCO said.

The award is also a tribute to women who have fought caste, gender, traditional role models and lack of education to give themselves and their communities a voice, it said.

Nirantar was founded in October 1993 with the aim of promoting literacy and education for women`s empowerment.

In 2002, the organization began selecting women with varying levels of literacy and from socially marginalised backgrounds such as Dalit, Kol and Muslim communities to work as journalists; they were offered intensive training on literacy skills, reporting, writing and editing.

In 2004, Nirantar and Khabar Lahariya began courses on the creation of newspapers, newsletters and broadsheets.

Courses are arranged in two modules of 14 and 7 days to suit the needs of local groups and for neo-literate and semi-literate women; facilitators are paid a monthly salary. Participants are also trained to use the internet and to operate cameras which they take with them on their reporting beat, UNESCO said.

Bureau Report