Initiative makes books accessible in VN’s rural areas

Update: December, 16/2016 - 18:00
Nguyễn Quang Thạch (second from left) is at the ceremony this morning that honours individuals and organisations involving in "Books for rural Areas of Việt Nam programme". The programme is one of five winners of the UNESCO International Literacy Prizez 2016. — VNA/VNS Photo
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI — More than 400,000 readers in rural areas can access books and a system of over 9,000 civil libraries has been built in 26 provinces in Việt Nam since 2007.

This is thanks to the “Books for rural areas of Việt Nam” programme, heard a ceremony held in Hà Nội this morning.

Organised by the Việt Nam National Commission for UNESCO and Ministry of Education and Training, the event honours individuals and organisations that brought the programme “Book for Rural Areas of Việt Nam” to localities across the country.

The programme, implemented by the Center for Knowledge Assistance and Community Development (CKACD), was awarded the 2016 UNESCO Literacy Prize in September, along with four other winners from Thailand, India, Senegal and South Africa.

CKACD founder Nguyễn Quang Thạch initiate the library revolution after witnessing a great shortage of books and an undeveloped library system in rural and mountainous areas in Việt Nam.

Based on the specific needs of different groups of learners, Thạch designed five main models: clan libraries, parish libraries, classrooms libraries, military officer libraries and community libraries.

The programme aims to offer equal education opportunities to all, particularly those in rural areas. It has engaged more than 100,000 people to finance the programme through crowd-funding.

At the ceremony, Deputy Minister of Education and Training Phạm Mạnh Hùng said the programme was in line with Việt Nam’s policies in promoting a reading culture, a long-lasting learning society and eliminating illiteracy.

Phạm Sanh Châu, secretary general of the Việt Nam National Commission for UNESCO, said the programme highlighted the effective co-operation between State and non-State organisations and the strength of the community.

CKACD founder Thạch said for a long time, children in Việt Nam’s rural areas had very few chances to access books. They usually only had access to textbooks and their parents had little awareness on the importance of reading books since they themselves had never read books.

“To encourage farmers/workers to create libraries for their children, I usually tell them that books can help them get better jobs and increase income,” Thạch said.

“Books which impart knowledge can help people predict and respond to changes around them,” he said.

He said with the UNESCO International Literacy prize, this programme, which brought books to rural areas, could be expanded across the country, and further, could be a good model to be applied in other countries. — VNS