SOUTH COTABATO, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / July 25, 2011) - The Asia Foundation (TAF), with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), recently launched a series of five book distribution events in the provinces of Sarangani, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, and in the cities of General Santos and Tacurong in Southern Philippines.
The donations were made by TAF’s Books for Asia’s program and distributed in Mindanao through the Transparent Accountable Governance (TAG) project, a partnership between USAID and TAF.
In each separate book distribution ceremony, TAF and USAID donated brand new educational materials to public elementary and secondary schools and colleges as a continuing commitment to promote education and literacy in Mindanao.
Boxes of reference materials were distributed to public libraries in host provinces, municipalities and cities; and partner non-government organizations.
Provincial and city government officials, regional officials of the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education, and representatives of the recipient schools, colleges, universities and NGOs graced the events.
Mission Director Gloria Steele affirmed USAID’s assistance to improve the quality of education in Mindanao. “We are proud to work with TAF in providing textbooks and other learning materials to Mindanao public schools. We believe that enhancing the quality of education, especially basic education in remote and conflict-affected areas, is an investment not only in the brighter future of Mindanao youth, but also in peace and development in the region,” Steele said.
USAID’s education program is providing over two million textbooks and other learning materials to elementary school students and out-of-school youth in remote communities in Mindanao.
“As we strive for a peaceful, democratic, just, and prosperous Philippines, a key emphasis is to address education. Schoolchildren have to be enabled to become thinking individuals so that they could become a driving force in efforts for peace and progress. Education is central to this process, and books are vital to allowing students to learn about the wider world,” said TAF’s Country Representative, Dr. Steven Rood.
Michelle Ann Jaboneta, Sanguniang Kabataan Federation President of South Cotabato, said: “It would be a great leap forward for our young learners that would really benefit this donation, thus they would be equipped with more knowledge and skills through reading. Reading plays an important role in molding the minds of our future leaders.”
The donation of books was done in collaboration with provincial and city governments, and private partners, and is intended to enhance the school libraries and communities as part of a wider effort throughout Southern Mindanao and the rest of the Philippines. For more than 56 years, The Asia Foundation has supported local communities to improve education for students.
For his part, Books for Asia Director, Efren Balajadia explained that the Foundation’s Books for Asia activities will continue throughout the Philippines, especially in Mindanao.
He said, “We are trying to reach all communities in the country to bring the books – even to the remotest schools. We are thankful to American publishers like Pearson Education and McGraw Hill companies for generous donations of brand new books to our program.”
TAF acknowledged the unrelenting support of partners in this endeavor; namely; the Provincial governments of Sarangani, South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat, and the City Governments of General Santos and Tacurong for encouraging activities that promote education and literacy, and USAID for generously supporting the Books for Asia’s special focus on Mindanao.
The Books for Asia is a well-known program that regularly distributes books and other reading materials for all educational levels in over 15 countries.
Since it was started in September 1954, The Books for Asia program has distributed more than 40 million books and journals to more than 50,000 academic and non-academic institutions throughout Asia.
The Philippines alone has been a recipient of 14 million books and journals to public and private institutions across the country. More than 95 percent of Books for Asia’s donations are new textbooks, donated by U.S. publishers.
The reading materials range from the elementary level to professional level, covering such fields as government, business, health, environment, information technology, social science, and international relations.
Books for Asia have made a significant contribution to education here in the Philippines especially since resources for instructional tools and facilities are scarce.
All educational levels have benefited from this program. Basic textbooks and supplementary reading materials have been donated to schools throughout the country. NGOs are also recipients of valuable resource materials from Books for Asia.