At Tetuan Central Elementary School in the Philippines, the chant of “use, use, use the books we choose” filled the auditorium. More than 300 teachers from the conflict zone of Mindanao had gathered here for an EDC-sponsored book fair. When they left, they took with them 280,000 books for their classrooms.
“It’s like finding invaluable treasures. I’m very excited to show my pupils the books I have gathered for them, and I’m quite sure that they will be equally excited as well,” said Caroline Ambolodto, a grade 5 teacher from the Tamonkata Central School in Cotabato City, Mindanao.
During the event, each teacher selected English, math, and science books to meet the needs of their classrooms. Many took extra copies to share with their colleagues and students. “By letting teachers choose the books, there is a greater chance that they will maximize the use of these resources,” said EDC’s Yvette Tan.
Prior to the book fair, EDC worked closely with educators to ensure that the offerings were culturally and academically relevant to their classrooms. The titles, the majority of which come from U.S. publishers, include everything from picture books that teach basic reading skills to math and science textbooks. In addition to the distribution of books, the fair also offered training on how to integrate the new resources into the classroom.
“The books represent every kind of learning and are a great tool for your children,” said U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines, Kristie Kenney, who addressed the gathering.
The book fair was the second of its kind sponsored by EDC’s Education Quality and Access for Learning and Livelihood Skills (EQuALLS2) project. At the inaugural book fair in October, 56,000 books were distributed to teachers from 84 elementary schools. By 2011, EQuALLS2 plans to distribute 1.8 million books to 741 schools across Mindanao.
“Our challenge is to get the right books into the right schools,” said Tom Crehan of the USAID Philippines Office of Education. “We all believe that through education, there will be prosperity in Mindanao, and through prosperity, there will be stability in Mindanao.”
EQuALLS2 focuses on improving teacher training in mathematics, English, and science. It also provides thousands of youths who have dropped out of school a second chance through alternative high school programs offered in community learning centers. In addition, project staff train members of local school boards to become more effective advocates, as well as engage mayors and other officials in supporting school improvement.
EQuALLS2 is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The book fair was conducted in partnership with Save the Children, Education Livelihood Skills Alliance, and the Department of Education (of the Philippines and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao), and featured books donated by the Brother’s Brother Foundation.
Originally published on January 21, 2009