The Throwaway Libraries

Asia Week has this nice story on schools in the Philippines that get second and third hand books sent to them from America. The students love it, and so do I. Way to go!!\"In DDU schools, all the students have to read are worn-out books and mimeographed materials, with hardly any pictures or color. The library is a single, dilapidated shelf in a poorly lit room, and the several dozen books in it are under lock and key.\"\"They are called DDU schools — deprived, depressed and underserved. There are thousands of them all over the Philippines, in places where appalling poverty, dismal transport and battering by the elements snuff out children\'s hopes even before they learn their ABCs. One of those DDUs was Emilio Aguinaldo Integrated Elementary School, a four-story affair with about 2,000 students next to decrepit tenement housing in Manila\'s Santa Ana district. Most of its sixth-graders used to fail the National Educational Achievement Test taken in the last elementary year, the second-worst results among 65 public schools in the city. NEAT\'s English portion, says a longtime teacher, was \"the Waterloo of the kids.\"

\"Many local textbooks are riddled with errors of grammar, spelling and fact. No wonder a third of public-school pupils drop out in the first couple of grades, and another 30% never reach high school.\"

\"That\'s the dismal situation San Francisco-based Books for the Barrios and its Philippine partner, Books for the Barangay, have been tirelessly working to remedy. Since 1981, when pilot Dan Harrington and his wife Nancy began its work, Books for the Barrios has provided thousands of mostly DDU schools with high-quality books from America — some 4 million of them, at the last count — as well as computers and teacher training in recent years. The two entities have also singled out 30 schools for their Models of Excellence (MOE) program to lift their standards to among the best in the country.\"

\"In the mid-1990s, Aguinaldo Integrated joined the MOE program. Its library got an encyclopedia, glossy National Geographic and other science books, and many other colorful publications (but no history books, to avoid nationalist objections). Students were encouraged to borrow for home reading and school work. The two NGOs also prodded city and education authorities to refurbish the buildings — a condition for their materials donation and MOE programs.\"

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