On August 16, The Asia Foundation’s Books for Asia program donated 35,000 new books to schools in the Mindanao province of Lanao Del Sur in the Philippines. After a distribution ceremony attended by two dozen officials from the provincial government and 740 public schools from across the province, a team from The Asia Foundation visited Datu Saber Elementary School – a primary school for students in grades 1 to 4. Datu Saber is one of the poorest areas in the Islamic City of Marawi, capital of Lanao Del Sur Province. This area is known for its volatile clan wars, or rido. Sometimes rido conflicts force schools to suspend classes, members of warring families to leave the community, or even children to transfer to other schools in fear of attack or ambush. When students are transferred, many problems arise with enrollment, shortage of books and other materials, and overcrowded school buildings and classrooms. Dr. Nordina M. Sarip, Assistant Schools Division Superintendent of Lanao Del Sur 2B in Malabang says, “I really appreciate the updated books which are colorful and attractive, especially to the students in the lower grade levels. For those students that have been affected by clashes, the books can help bring back their enthusiasm to study when they return to school.”
The donation in Lanao Del Sur was made possible by the support of publishers, including the McGraw Hill Companies, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and Pearson Education. The Asia Foundation’s Books for Asia program has distributed more than 13 million books and journals to public and private institutions across the Philippines since 1954. Books for Asia donates books to all three of the island groups – Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.