Where can kids read? DepEd libraries map will tell you

MANILA, Philippines – How do we foster the love of reading among children? The easiest way is to make books available.  

But when the home cannot afford an extensive collection of reading materials – or worse, may not count books among its priorities – making a library accessible to children is the next best bet.

The Department of Education (DepEd) has taken a step toward that by introducing an online map that shows where the registered public school libraries are located across the country.

The Library Locator Map shows which public elementary and high schools have libraries. It also indicates where the library hubs are within school divisions. It is hosted by CartoDB, a platform that provides GIS and web mapping tools. (Try out the map here.)

Of the 9,855 public schools with libraries that are registered with the DepEd, almost 9,000 have been mapped, according to a press release from the agency. It also said there are 188 library hubs in divisions nationwide.

“Dapat ang bawa't bata ay mayroong paraan para makapagbuklat ng isang libro at makapagpatuloy ng pagbabasa,” Education Secretary Armin Luistro said. (Every child should have a means to open a book and continue with reading.)

So far, the registered public school libraries seem inadequate. As of school year 2012-2013, there was a total of 46,407 public elementary and high schools in the country, excluding those run by, or attached to, state universities and colleges. This translates to one library for every 4 to 5 schools.

Considering the student population in these schools, based on last year’s enrollment of 18.9 million for elementary and high school, the ratio would be one library for every 1,917 students.

Book donations sought  

This is where stakeholders can come in. Luistro urged the public “to take part in fostering the love for reading by donating one new book per year.” 

Ultimately, the education chief said, the aim is for reading to develop in school children the confidence to write their own stories.

“Reading enriches the soul. Every child has a story bursting in his or her heart. The problem is, it’s never been written, it’s never published, because no one dares to listen,” said Luistro. 

Luistro said he envisions a Philippines where every elementary and high school graduate is able to write his or her stories. 

“Our libraries’ goal is to help every graduate write his or her own story, a story that is welling up in his or his heart.”

For starters, DepEd also launched the “Balik-Eskwela: Tuloy ang Basa, Ipakita ang Sigla” program, which conducted reading and writing sessions for students and teachers of Fort Bonifacio Elementary School in Taguig City and elementary schools in Makati City.

DepEd continues to improve the data and information on the Library Locator Map. It is asking the public to send their feedback to action@deped.gov.ph– Miriam Grace Go/Rappler.com