Launch Phase Two of the Ho Chi Minh City edition of Words on Wheels

17:10 | 29/03/2018 Society

(VEN) - Singapore International Foundation, in partnership with Keppel Land and the General Sciences Library of Ho Chi Minh City, launches Phase Two of the Ho Chi Minh City edition of Words on Wheels - a signature programme to promote reading and learning among children in local communities via a mobile library.

The Singapore International Foundation (SIF), in partnership with Keppel Land Limited (Keppel Land) and the General Sciences Library of Ho Chi Minh City (GSL), are extending their efforts to bring the joy of reading and cross-cultural learning to Vietnamese children and youths. Announced today at the Words on Wheels (Ho Chi Minh) Phase Two launch event, the collaboration, which has been renewed for three years, is expected to positively impact over 7,000 Vietnamese students by 2020. Keppel Land will continue to support as the main sponsor of Phase Two, and will have staff volunteers from across the Keppel Group participate in the programme.

Words on Wheels (WoW) is an SIF signature programme which provides students better access to educational materials including books, the internet and multimedia facilities via a mobile library which visits participating schools on a rotational basis.

Apart from promoting a culture of reading and learning, the WoW programme provides a platform for Singapore International Volunteers (SIVs) to forge cross-border friendships with the local community through knowledge-sharing and cross-cultural exchanges. Following its first edition in Hanoi in 2011, which was also supported by Keppel Land, the WoW programme has since been introduced to schools in Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam, Bandung and Yogyakarta in Indonesia, and Jaffna in Sri Lanka.

The inaugural edition of WoW (Ho Chi Minh) in 2014 had successfully brought the joy of reading and lifelong learning to over 3,000 students. Close to 250 SIVs had volunteered their time and resources over the course of four years which also resulted in the refurbishment of library and IT facilities of six schools.

As part of a training-of-trainers (ToT) component, Phase One also saw specialist SIVs, librarians from Singapore’s National Library Board, share library management and Information Technology (IT) skills with their Vietnamese counterparts. Both communities continued further peer learnings and sharings through a series of workshops and a study visit to Singapore. The Vietnamese trainees have since been equipped to cascade their newfound knowledge and skills by training their peers in the field.

Under Phase Two, the mobile library will travel to seven government schools to positively impact over 7,000 Vietnamese students aged six to 15 (Grades 1-9). It will be fitted with internet-enabled laptops and tablets equipped with learning applications. In addition, five schools identified by GSL, will see their libraries and/or computer labs undergo refurbishment to create a more conducive learning environment.

Over the next four years, approximately 120 SIVs will travel to conduct English language and IT literacy workshops at the schools. The curriculum will be specially designed to cultivate students’ interest in reading and learning, while facilitating cross-cultural exchanges. In addition, staff volunteers from Keppel Land have developed English lessons on green living and financial literacy with the aim to inculcate values on sustainability among the local community, particularly the youths.

Mr Lian Wee Chow, Governor, SIF said: “The SIF, like its partners GSL and Keppel Land, believes that access to education is a key enabler of community empowerment. The successful first run exemplifies the good that can happen when we work together to solve common challenges for positive impact. The launch of Phase Two reaffirms our joint commitment towards this meaningful cause and serves as a further testament to 45 years of longstanding relations and friendship between the people of Singapore and Vietnam.”

Mr Bui Xuan Duc, Director, GSL said: “Words on Wheels carries out the good and basic function of the public library – where ‘books find the readers’ - by organising mobile library trips to provide books and newspapers across the country. Books are everywhere and we see the significance of these trips as they meet the community’s needs for leisure, research and lifelong learning. During the first phase of the project, books were cherished and shared passionately among readers. The children did not want to leave the mobile library van nor say goodbye to the volunteer librarians during these trips. Words on Wheels not only feeds the hunger for information and technology, it contributes to improving the skills and inspiring the passion to build a reading culture, particularly in developing good reading habits for children at a young age.”

Ngoc Anh