Limited access to books has been a severe problem in Vietnam for decades. While reading culture in metropolitan areas is drastically changing, the country's rural communities are still in desperate need for books. The reading levels of rural students are so low that the pupils read only one or two books, aside from textbooks, every year, while urban students read 20-30 books.
To solve the shortage of books in rural areas, promote a reading culture, and enrich knowledge, Better Life Vietnam (BLV) has teamed up with the Center for Knowledge Assistance and Community Development (CKACD) to provide access to books for underprivileged children. The CKACD, founded by Mr. Nguyen Quang Thach, has successfully built more than 10,000 bookcases for nearly 500,000 children in rural areas. The two teams aim to offer book access to 15 million rural youths in Vietnam in the coming years.
The Books Library for Brighter Future project provides free books for underprivileged children in Vietnam through classroom libraries. Each classroom will be equipped with a bookcase full of picture books, short novels, and textbooks, which students can use at school or bring home.
Students who have read the most weekly/monthly will be recognized. Workshops and writing competitions will also be organized to enhance reading and comprehension skills. Based on reading activities records, the program will try to identify characteristics of readers at each school, e.g. what kind of books they read, how many books each child reads per year. This information will be used to better evaluate the operation of the libraries, as well as the needs of the students.
Each year, the Books Library for Brighter Future project is evaluated through quantitative methods (e.g. using records from reading activities to calculate reading rates) and qualitative methods (e.g. interviewing readers). These evaluations help improve the libraries’ inventory to better serve readers, as well as to provide evidence for the effectiveness and necessity of classroom libraries.
“ The teachers and students of Tien Hiep secondary school really appreciated what BLV and the volunteers have done for us. It was an amazingly meaningful Tet present for our school. We promise to protect your books and use them in the good way in order to give knowledge to our students. We wish BLV and the volunteers the best of luck and hope to do more meaningful programs like this in near future. Hope to see you very soon. Thank you so much!
“ Since the classroom libraries were implemented, I have seen more students read books both at school and at home. Students are thinking "outside the box," asking teachers more questions, and starting their own debate clubs, which they run themselves. I feel sad for thousands of my former students in the past 30 years who lacked the same opportunity.
“ Many of the students here will become workers in nearby factories. However, after seeing the influence of the new libraries, he hopes the children will have higher ambitions for themselves when they graduate. He says the libraries have encouraged peer reading amongst students and teachers and for families when the children bring books back home.
“ The Books Library Project has improved the quality of education at the school, with students earning higher scores on exams, especially in social sciences.
“ I was diagnosed with osteogenesis imperfecta. I had always felt hopeless until I read the book "Overcoming Destiny" at the Hoang Clan Library. This book helped me realize that, with great effort, people with disabilities can overcome challenges.