Founded in 2007, Quality Education Support Trust (QUEST) is an organization that is deeply engaged in addressing the issue of Early Literacy across the state of Maharashtra with a special focus on the tribal belts. Over the past 14 years, the organization has done original work on how children learn to read in Indian regional languages. Geetanjali Kulkarni, an alumnus of the National School of Drama is associated with the organization right from its inception. She was conducting theater workshops and reading activities for teachers as well as children in an ad hoc manner at the QUEST Sonale center. The response was always motivating to take a step further and build upon it. However, it was clear after some initial efforts that the work needed a sharper focus and a goal. This led to the foundation of the Goshtarang Fellowship Program in 2016.
Since 2019, this program is being headed by Vaibhav Lokur. He has had experience in the field of theatre for the last 8 years, and is a founder member of a small start-up theatre company named Khula Asmaan in Belgaum. He hopes to build a community of storytellers across Maharashtra who will be well equipped to engage children in the world of storybooks.
In rural & tribal areas, many children are first-generation school- goers. They don’t have access to books. There is very little print material in their surroundings. They rarely see adults around them reading. As a result, many of them fail to acquire sound and permanent literacy. This makes it difficult for them to complete their formal education successfully. QUEST’s Goshtarang Fellows perform Children’s literature for these children, in Marathi, and conduct library activities based on storybooks. The whole exercise is based on pedagogical research. The success of Goshtarang can be seen at various levels. Students are getting attracted to the written word and are demanding storybooks for reading. Teachers have noticed that the students are talking more fluently and expressing themselves in writing as well.
About the Goshtarang Fellowship
The Goshtarang Fellowship program is a residential, full-time program of ten months. Three to five young artists interested in theatre are selected for this fellowship through a rigorous selection process conducted by renowned theatre artistes and educators. Some of the key factors for selection are – interest in working with children, having experience in theatre, being fluent in Marathi and readiness to live in rural areas with minimal resources.
Goshtarang is an inter-disciplinary fellowship where fellows receive input on concepts of children’s literature and reading pedagogy along with rigorous inputs on performing children’s literature. The fellows perform stories and conduct library activities for the children of grades 1 to 7 in rural and tribal areas of Maharashtra.
Since 2016, Goshtarang has reached up to 4,29,500+ children across 25 districts of Maharashtra.