Provincial and city buses get a bad rap for causing heavy traffic in Metro Manila’s busiest highway, but here’s one we’d love to see on the road every day: Five Star Bus Company, in partnership with Hulma Foundation, transformed one of their older buses to become a library on wheels! Called Lakbay Aklatan, the interiors are fitted with shelves and reading areas and it aims to strengthen children’s proficiency and love for reading by bringing books to public schools around the Philippines.
For its official launch last Monday, September 9, 2019, Lakbay Aklatan went to Laoang, Tarlac, to host a read-aloud and open reading session for students in one of their beneficiary schools. It will visit three other schools in Tarlac: San Juan de Valdez, Mapalad, and Carangian and will stay in each school for an entire week this school year, according to a GMA News report.
Ria Cauton, one of the founders of Lakbay Aklatan, told GMA News that the aim is not just for children to read for a while and then have the bus drive away. “It’s actually a very focused reading program where we have teachers who will do one-on-one tutorial with the kids.”
The mobile library will target Grade 1 and Grade 2 students and will give each student a 10-minute lesson every day for a week, teaching them both English and Filipino.
“Our goal is that after Grade 1 and 2, sana 100% of students are already readers,” said Cauton.
Cauton shared that the idea from the project was inspired by a discussion with one of Hulma Foundation scholars, Danille Soriano, who is an Education graduate of Tarlac State University. Her father is a retired driver from the Five Star Bus Company.
“We got to talking about the challenges that teachers in the provinces and public schools encounter and we realized that if the children are 100% literate, then it sets them up for success,” Cauton said. “Given the literacy challenges faced by our students, we decided to create a very targeted literacy program.”
While this is not the first mobile library in the Philippines, the initiative has received countless praise from the online community. According to Five Star Bus Company’s official Facebook page, they will visit schools in small and remote areas that are far from libraries or have no access to it.
“Layunin naming gawing mas laganap sa mga kabataang edad anim hanggang pitong taong gulang ang pagbabasa,” the company said.
In October 2018, the Manila Police District set up a mobile library and a program called “Pulis Na, Teacher Pa,” to help street children and out-of-school youth to learn basic academic lessons, good manners and right conduct, and personal hygiene. In Intramuros, The Book Stop Project is a pop-up library where visitors can borrow or donate their books.
Another mobile library roaming the country is Book Mobile Philippines, a volunteer group that aims to encourage a love for reading through its library tours nationwide.
Though the Five Star Bus Company says it has only converted one bus for its mobile library initiative for now, hopefully, it will be a successful program and we’ll see more libraries on wheels promoting reading in the country!
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