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A joint initiative by Bachpan Manao, Badhte Jao, The Billion Readers Initiative and Pratham Education Foundation

June 20, 2024, India: Bachpan Manao, Badhte Jao, and the Billion Readers (BIRD) Initiative have partnered with Pratham Education Foundation to launch the “First Songs” project to celebrate childhood and enhance early learning opportunities. This partnership is dedicated to spreading the joy of lullabies and ensuring that every child, regardless of background, can benefit from their enriching educational potential.

Initiated on Children’s Day, 14th November 2023, the First Songs project aims to preserve the cultural essence of lullabies while making early learning accessible to all. The initiative seeks to create a comprehensive repository of lullabies, animate these melodies, and provide subtitles in multiple languages, thus promoting foundational literacy. Research indicates that babies primarily learn languages through rhythmic cues and thus this repository will serve a crucial role in utilizing lullabies for language development. Since its inception, the project has made significant strides in cultural preservation and literacy enhancement, curating a diverse collection of 42 lullabies in 8 languages: Bengali, Gujarati, Chhattisgarhi, Gaddi (Himachal), Pahadi (Himachal), Hindi, Magahi (Bihar), and Tamil.

The introduction of Pratham Education Foundation marks phase two of the initiative. Through their deep-rooted work in early childhood education, Pratham will source more lullabies in multiple languages from across the country. Their network of grassroots workers, volunteers, and mothers’ groups will supercharge the initiative in collecting many more lullabies.

Deepika Mogilishetty, Chief – Policy and Partnerships at EkStep Foundation, highlighted the importance of nurturing children’s holistic development, stating, “Lullabies are abundant in our homes and communities and play a significant role in early development, especially in forming strong family bonds and early linguistic skills. Recognizing this, Bachpan Manao, Badhte Jao is committed to unleashing the transformative power of lullabies for both children and adults. As a collaborative initiative, the First Songs project allows many to freely engage, learn, create, express, and share their favorite First Songs with joy and playfulness.”

Nirav Shah, COO at BIRD, expressed pride in being part of this initiative, stating, “We aim to preserve our culture by making these lullabies accessible to all children by breaking language barriers. Infusing the lullabies with animation and multilingual subtitles, we add new life to these tunes. We hope to provide valuable early learning tools for children.”

Samyukta Subramanian (Co-Lead, Early Years) from Pratham Education Foundation emphasized the vision of the partnership, stating, “Our goal is to share the soothing sounds of different languages with millions of children across India, celebrating our country’s diversity. Through this collaboration, we hope to enrich the bond between parents and young children with the educational and emotional power of these familiar soundscapes.”

This collaboration marks a significant stride in promoting cultural preservation, early childhood development, and literacy enhancement. By animating lullabies and providing multilingual subtitles, the project fosters accessibility and lays the foundation for lifelong learning.

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