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Literacy, Reading and Book Donation Programs

In "A Nation of Nonreaders" (iReport, 7 June 2007), former undersecretary Juan Miguel Luz differentiates between reading and literacy, and simple literacy and functional literacy. He examines the results and methodologies of different tests used to determine literacy and reading skills, points out their inadequacies, and indicates why it is important to have accurate figures on both: "With poor reading comes poor learning." Luz, however, shows that there is reason to hope by citing several examples of successful initiatives, including DepEd's Library Hub, which has continued despite the absence of Luz, its original proponent.

Note that the essay appears on four pages (1 2 3 4), and is accompanied by a photo gallery (six images of Marikina libraries) and "Libraries of hope" by Lala Ordenes-Cascolan, which tells the story of AHON Foundation's work in Marikina. The latter illustrates why I am wary of book donation programs ("You can give books, but if the library is not conducive to learning and to reading, sayang ang books mo [your books will go to waste]"), and why AHON is different from other reading programs ("one, the foundation works with, not independent of, DepEd; two, it enlists the help of the local government as a partner; and three, it encourages participation from stakeholders by mobilizing the community to contribute.")

To understand the significance of AHON's work, see "8T books collected for SM's Donate-A-Book project" (Sun.Star, 8 June 2007), which is a typical press release that mentions the names of donor companies prominently, but says nothing about what will happen to the books.

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