Mobile literacy initiative goes to Liloan
LILOAN, Cebu — Grade 3 pupils Zaira Anne Olasima and Vanessa Navarro learned how to read when they were in first grade using the textbooks issued by the Department of Education (DepEd) to public school children like them.
The two girls, 8 and 9 years old, love fairytale stories.
They have watched movies on Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty.
But they have never seen books about these stories as Simeon Ayuda Elementary School in Barangay San Vicente, Liloan town, does not have a functional library due to shortage of classrooms.
So when the mobile library of Minds on Wheels, Inc. arrived at their campus on Friday, November 22, the two girls could not contain their excitement.
“I have never seen so many books in my life!” a visibly excited Vanessa quips.
Zaira says she has never been to a library.
She has not heard of the word until it was mentioned by one of the people who brought the “big car with books” to the school.
On Saturday, November 23, the two girls listened intently as volunteer-teachers of Minds on Wheels Inc. read the story of “The Little Mermaid” to them and taught them new words.
Inspiring children to never stop learning is one of the goals of Minds on Wheels, Inc., according to its founder Chime Bell Osabel, an entrepreneur by choice and an educator by profession.
Osabel, who owns a growing business called Diet in a Box that serves healthy meals, says the initiative roughly started inside their commissary located in Barangay Banilad, Cebu City where they used to feed recovering substance abusers.
“But the sight of children outside our commissary stuck in my head. There are so many of them in our area and I thought about what we can do to help them out,” he tells CDN Digital.
So began the journey to gather friends and form what is now Minds on Wheels.
Osabel said the idea to form a foundation started in February 2019.
From then on, Osabel gathered five of his friends to form Minds on Wheels. With a chef, teacher, doctor, a talent agency owner and barangay captain in the mix, they were able to form a foundation that hollistically examined the needs of the children.
Osabel says the mobile library carries learning materials with the goal to strengthen literacy in the city and in the rural areas in the province of Cebu.
“The concept is a modern mobile library that moves from town-to-town promoting equity of learning provision by enhancing the opportunity of kids and adults in all classes to access to different learning materials,” he says.
Osabel says they conducted research and focus group discussions before jumping right into the advocacy.
After ironing details pertaining to establishing a foundation, they crafted a learning curriculum designed for short courses and responsive of the needs of slow readers.
At the end of every session, Osabel said the children do not just go home learning about a story, they will also learn at least 12 new words.
They are also fed lunch courtesy of Chef Bibo Moreno.
Osabel said the foundation started rolling out in September 2019 in the municipality of Aloguinsan.
The mobile library will be parked at the covered court of Simeon Ayuda Elementary School in Barangay San Vicente until end of February 2020.
Saturday learning sessions will have emphasis on reading, vocabulary and comprehension with at least 50 children from Grades 1 to 6 who were earlier identified as struggling readers.
Last November 23, a parallel health and wellness sharing was also conducted with the parents.
Osabel says they hope to reach 15 municipalities by the end of 2020.
School principal Flordeliza Sasing says she is happy that the school was chosen by Liloan Mayor Christina Garcia Frasco as the site of implementation.
Sasing has been serving as principal of Simeon Ayuda Elementary School for three years.
She says they do not have a functional library because of shortage of classroom.
Instead of a library, the books are stored in the computer room.
“Dako kaayo ni og tabang (This is a big help) because we have so many learners who are slow readers. It’s a great intervention to our reading program,” says Sasing, who served as teacher in the neighboring barangay of Lataban for 19 years.
Established in the early 70s, Simeon Ayuda Elementary School has more than 1,700 pupils from Kindergarten to Grade 6.
The school has 58 teachers and a school head.
The arrival of the mobile library in Liloan this November coincides with the nationwide celebration of Children’s Month.
Kevin Sasing, Sangguniang Kabataan chairperson of Barangay San Vicente, said the children of Simeon Ayuda Elementary School are blessed to be part of the literacy program of Minds on Wheels.
“One of the issues that we are facing today is that there are young people who reach high school who are still not able to read. This program is beneficial because it emphasizes that the Municipality of Liloan prioritizes education,” says Sasing.
Liloan Mayor Christina Frasco lauded the efforts of Minds on Wheels for bringing the mobile library to Liloan.
She said this is the first time that a mobile library visited Liloan.
“In Liloan, we try to give more than the usual government service. Education is top priority. Kinahanglan nga siguraduhon nga lig-on ug hayag ang kaugmaon sa atong kabatan-unan (We need to make sure that the future of our children is strong and bright),” the mayor says.
Addressing the founders of Minds on Wheels, Frasco says:” Through your passion for education, these children are given the opportunity to become better. Makalaum mo nga magpadayon ang ligdong nga suporta sa Liloan ka ninyo (You can hope that the Municipality of Liloan will strongly support your initiatives).”
For Osabel, serving the community by providing a platform for children to be better in reading and comprehension is a step toward ensuring that these children will secure better future for themselves and their families.
“Literacy is more important than it ever was, in this world of text and email, a world of written information. We need to read and write, we need global citizens who can read comfortably, comprehend what they are reading, understand nuance, and make themselves understood,” he says.
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