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Australian Government beefs up school libraries in ARMM

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The Australian Government through its Basic Education Assistance for Muslim Mindanao (BEAM-ARMM) Program is distributing at least P117 million worth of brand new books to select schools in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in an effort to upgrade the region’s school libraries.

Atty. Jamar Kulayan, ARMM’s education secretary, said the books are donated by the Brother’s Brother Foundation and the Rotary Club of Makati (RCM) to the Learning Improvement through Book Reading Opportunities or LIBRO Para sa Batang Bangsamoro Project, a book donation drive spearheaded by the department and the BEAM-ARMM Program.

BBF is a US-based foundation that focuses on medical and educational needs of children around the world and works with RCM on various charity work in the Philippines.

The books were shipped straight from the warehouse of McGraw Hill and other major publishers in the United States to Zamboanga and Cotabato City just recently.

Speaking before the handover ceremonies of books held here on April 9, 2015, Kulayan said that more than 300 school libraries including 32 madaris or Islamic schools across ARMM will receive new math, science, and English books from the LIBRO Project.

He added that the BEAM-ARMM Program also allotted P15 million for minor repairs and refurbishing of school libraries and reading centers in the region.

“This is a huge and ambitious project. But DepEd-ARMM is confident that with the help of the Australian Government, thousands of our schoolchildren will get access to libraries that offer quality reading and reference materials,” said Kulayan.

Kulayan noted that reading is key to increasing the learning outcomes of schoolchildren, especially in ARMM where access to learning materials such as books is seen wanting in recent years.

“Lack of access to learning materials hamper the learning of our schoolchildren,” he said, adding, that through reading, “we are teaching them the process of critical thinking, which allows them to make better choices.”

He pointed out that a better Moro is an educated Moro. “We can start educating our children by teaching them how to read and comprehend what they are reading,” he added.

“When we accomplish the task of teaching our children to think rationally and to make better choices, we can already solve more than half of our peace and order problems in the region,” Kulayan said.

The Australian Government-funded BEAM-ARMM Program aims to contribute to the alleviation of poverty in ARMM and, in the longer term, to the emergence of sustainable peace in the region through closely-targeted investments in early childhood and basic education as well as skills training of out-of-school youth and senior high school students.

Aside from beefing up the region’s school libraries, the Australian Government helps DepEd-ARMM implement the Enhanced Basic Education Curriculum or K to 12 Program through supplemental training of elementary, high school, and madrasah teachers and administrators on core subjects such as math, science, and English.

The Australian Government also constructs and rehabilitates classroom buildings, promotes and delivers school health and sanitation facilities, increases the chances of out-of-school youth and senior high school students in landing decent jobs through skills development and training, and provides alternative delivery model of basic education in remote and conflict-affected areas of ARMM.