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Selinger, U of W donate books to school in India

Gift intended to help educate women

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Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger and delegates from the University of Winnipeg have presented books from Winnipeg to a school in India dedicated to the education of women.

The Mata Gujri Memorial Library and Learning Centre in Bhanohar is a project between the U of W, World Literacy Canada, Winnipeg homebuilder Ventura Custom Homes and the school's village to support children's literacy. The new facility will be open to young women attending schools in the Bhanohar area of the Punjab region.

"This library establishes a vital educational resource for young women and girls in the Punjab and promises to be a touchstone for ongoing initiatives that are bringing our communities closer together," Selinger said in a statement on Wednesday. "This partnership will strengthen our connections with India as more young women look to Manitoba as a great place to continue their education."

The creation of the Mata Gujri Memorial Library and Learning Centre was made possible by a donation of $70,000 in 2010 from Cliff Penner, president and owner of Ventura Custom Homes, to the U of W.

Penner has made an additional donation of $50,000 to the centre's operations and programming.

The U of W has recently partnered with World Literacy Canada to manage the facility's operations and programming, which will include literacy classes, skills training and personal development such as health and nutrition.

"This is a truly inspiring example of how local determination can have a positive global impact," Dr. Lloyd Axworthy, president and vice-chancellor of the U of W, said in a release. "It is a uniquely Manitoban effort to help children -- especially girls -- in India achieve literacy and empowerment in one small village."

There are currently eight young women from Bhanohar studying at the U of W, a trend that the downtown campus wants to strengthen through the centre.

The book donation also begins a fundraising campaign to help furnish the new library with more books and digital content.

A selection of books written by Manitoban children's authors was also donated by U of W. World Literacy Canada contributed other books and educational resources. The U of W is planning a public event in early March to increase awareness of women's literacy issues in India and to raise at least $70,000 to support ongoing educational programs at the centre.

Selinger is in India as part of a 10-day trade mission and to also promote the province as an education destination. He's joined by local business leaders and representatives of Manitoba's colleges and universities.

The trip includes stops in Delhi and Mumbai along with several smaller centres including Chandigarh, Sawaddi, Ludhiana, Agra and Ahmadabad.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 31, 2013 A11

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