It was the startling lack of discernment of the privileged and the problem of illiteracy in India, especially in Bihar, that prompted her to come to the aid of the community in any which way she could.
Eighteen-year-old Sadiya Shaikh was born in Darbhanga district of Bihar. Sadiya’s parents had decided to move their family to Mumbai, Maharashtra when she was only a toddler, to ensure that the children got the life and education they deserved.
She was visiting her hometown during the lockdown when she managed to establish the accessible, well-stocked, and only library her village has.
The Maulana Azad Library in Deora village of Darbhanga District is an initiative taken up by young Sadiya with help from her family and friends to sow the seeds for inclusive education for all the students in the community who cannot afford the luxury of getting appropriate and established means of instruction.
Deora stands at a total population of 3,446 persons and 631 houses. While the village literacy rate stands at 40.9%, the female literacy rate is a staggering 18.6%.
The close linked relationship between illiteracy and poverty has challenged the development of the people of Deora for a long time therefore, the library is of service to the students of all grades along with school textbooks, there is accessible material for aspirants of competitive examinations, along with a couple of trained professionals who help to tutor the children, who, even though, are enrolled in schools, cannot afford to go and own the required textbooks and other study materials.
“Few sections of our society have benefitted the most from the library, the youth who used to wander during the evening, now sit in the library and study, along with them, the elderly also use the library as a space to sit and read the daily newspaper,” Nawaz, a resident of Deora and a daily visitor of the library said to Maktoob.
Nawaz said his village doesn’t even have a well-established government school.
“Even though there is a private school just out of the village, most families cannot afford to send their children there, and even when they somehow arrange to pay the high-end fee they still cannot afford to buy the books and other school material, so the public library has ensured the well-being of such children by providing them these books at zero-cost along with the facility of issuing the required textbooks and taking them home to read,” he added.
The library has books pertaining to the school boards in the state and NCERT (National Council of Educational Research and Training) books from standard one to 12.
Akbar Ali, a second year BCom student told Maktoob that with the establishment of Maulana Azad Library, an atmosphere to study has been created in his village.
Sadiya Shaikh is an undergraduate student getting her bachelor’s in Sociology-Literature in English from Rizvi College in Bandra. She aspires to get her Postgraduate Degree from the Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI), Delhi.
She considers her education to be the informant that made her acquainted with the social and political predicament that threatens the minorities and women in India. Sadiya was an active participant in the anti-CAA-NRC-NPR protests and has been applauded for the various speeches she delivered disputing the law at various public-speaking events, one of which was in company with activists Umar Khalid and Kanhaiya Kumar.
Moving forward, Sadiya has her sights set on helping the women in her community and creating employment for the ones who are bound to the four walls of their household.
Sadiya believes that for any social change to be brought about, it’s the privileged and the educated members of the community who need to step up and stand in allyship with the marginalised, and only through education, can they stand a fair shot with the favoured class.
“Development of one person in a society consisting of under-privileged is no development at all. It is when the fortunate ones uplift the disadvantaged and curb inequality, does real development take place,” Sadiya told Maktoob.
“During the lockdown, many children didn’t have access to any regular means of instruction so the books from the library proved to be very beneficial, they also provided newspapers for older students and adults at Maulana Azad Library”- Rahela who lives near the library says.