Children must be given the opportunity to learn more beyond the four corners of a classroom, and school libraries are one of the efficient ways that can help facilitate this. The quality of education of public elementary school students are embedded in the kind of facilities and resources that are accessible to them. One of the primary facilities that a school should have is a functional library. However, many public elementary schools still do not have libraries, and those that do have yet to make their libraries child-friendly and functional. Thus, it is no longer surprising that we continue to still have many non-readers in our public schools.
The Acts of Hope for the Nation (AHON) Foundation responds to this need by opening more public elementary school libraries around the Philippines to provide Filipino children with relevant opportunities so they may gain more knowledge by practicing a culture of reading.
Recently, AHON Foundation together with former Pampanga Gov. Eddie “Among Ed” Panlilio and Sen. Teofisto “TG” Guingona III, opened two (2) child-friendly libraries in public schools in Pampanga – San Agustin Integrated School in San Fernando and San Juan Nepomuceno Elementary School in Guagua. The whole community, including the local government officials, barangay officers, alumni, PTA members and other stakeholders, attended the inauguration.
Unlike other groups who just donate books, AHON’s main condition for its donating more than P 350,000.00 worth of brand new books per school is for the community to work together to renovate and refurbish its existing library. This would mean providing enough tables, chairs and shelves that children can use as well as providing adequate lighting and ventilation that would make learning conducive for every child.
“Nagpapasalamat po kami na natupad na ang aming hiling na magkaroon ng library itong eskwelahan,” said Mrs. Marie Grace Ramos, Principal of San Agustin Integrated School.
According to Mrs. Leilani Capati, Principal of San Juan Nepomuceno Elementary School, they really want to put up a library but they do not have enough resources.
“Mabuti na lang po at andiyan kayo para tulungan kami sa matagal na naming pinapangarap na library. Makakatulong po talaga ito sa mga bata,” she said. Among Ed Panlilio, the former governor of the Province of Pampanga, stated that, “Kung ‘di lang din sa kooperasiyon niyong lahat, hindi tayo magkakaroon ng library. Congatulations sa inyong lahat!”
On a related note, Sen. Guingona said, “Napakaswerte ninyo dahil mayroon na kayong ganitong kagagandang libro na maaaring magamit sa inyong pag-aaral. Sana ay huwag ninyong sayangin ito dahil ang edukasyon at pagbabasa ay ang susi sa mas magandang kinabukasan para sa inyong lahat.”
Even when libraries are provided, they cannot be functional if the children are not encouraged to enter the library and read the books that are now accessible to them. Mr. Hector O. Tagaysay, Chairman of AHON Foundation, encouraged the children to read the books and promised them that AHON will replace the books if they become worn-out.
To date, AHON Foundation opened 110 public elementary school libraries in different places such as La Union, Nueva Ecija, Camarines Sur, Quezon, Bulacan, Pampanga, Rizal, Leyte, Ilocos Sur, Isabela, Pangasinan, Laguna, Batangas, Ifugao and Metro Manila benefiting more than 500,000 public elementary pupils. AHON Foundation still believes and continues to work on providing functional and child-friendly libraries in the hope of uplifting the quality of education in the country.
For those who are interested to volunteer or support AHON Foundation, you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (02) 518-0021.