Last Monday, September 9, 2019, Five Star Bus Company, in partnership with Hulma Foundation, officially launched “Lakbay Aklatan,” a project where they transformed one of their older buses to become a library on wheels that aims to promote good reading habits and to strengthen reading proficiency among children.
The mobile library first went to Laoang Elementary School in Tarlac, which is one of their beneficiary schools to host a read-aloud and open reading session for students.
Based on a report by GMA News, aside from this school, Lakbay Aklatan will also visit three other public schools in Tarlac and will stay in each school once a month for an entire week this school year. The three other lucky schools are, San Juan de Valdez, Mapalad, and Carangian.
As seen in the photos shared online, the interiors of the converted library are fitted with wooden shelves filled with books that were bought by Five Star as well as those donated by individuals. It also has spacious reading areas for the children and their teachers, who will do a one-on-one tutorial with the students.
In an interview with GMA News, one of the founders of Lakbay Aklatan, Ria Cauton, said that their goal is not just for children to read for a while and then have the bus drive away.
“It’s actually a very focused reading program where we have teachers who will do a one-on-one tutorial with the kids.”
She then added,
“Our goal is that after Grade 1 and 2, sana 100% of students are already readers.”
This newly launched project will target Grade 1 and Grade 2 students and will give each student a 10-minute lesson every day for both English and Filipino, this will run for a week.
Ria Cauton went on to share that this project was inspired by a discussion they had with one of Hulma Foundation scholars, Danille Soriano, an Education graduate of Tarlac State University and a daughter of a retired driver from the Five Star Bus Company.
“We got to talking about the challenges that teachers in the provinces and public schools encounter and we realized that if the children are 100% literate, then it sets them up for success,” Ria explained. “Given the literacy challenges faced by our students, we decided to create a very targeted literacy program,” she added.
Lakbay Aklatan is not the first library on wheels in the Philippines, but this initiative has received tons of praises from the online community.
We also have the Manila Police District set up a mobile library and a program called “Pulis Na, Teacher Pa,” way back in October 2018, their goal is to help street children and out-of-school youth to learn basic academic lessons, good manners and right conduct, and personal hygiene.
Another one is the Book Stop Project, located in Intramuros, this is a pop-up library where visitors can donate or borrow some books.
There is also a volunteer group that aims to encourage a love for reading through its library tours nationwide, their mobile library was called Book Mobile Philippines.
Five Star Bus Company also posted on their official Facebook page about this newly launched project. The post indicated that the mobile bus will visit schools in small and remote areas with little or no access to libraries.
“Layunin naming gawing mas laganap sa mga kabataang edad anim hanggang pitong taong gulang ang pagbabasa,” the company stated.