Donated books help students
GETTING access to an Englishlanguage novel or book is a painstaking task for readers in small cities. It is much worse than for readers leaving in Yangon.
On a recent survey conducted by the EF English Proficiency Index, Myanmar ranked 82 out of 88 countries in English skills for non-native speakers, inviting the country to improve public’s English proficiency.
“It has been a grueling process to get English-language books. In the past, if a student wanted to attend English language class after completing the matriculation exam, he had to travel to Yangon,” said Dr Kyaw Lwin Soe, chief librarian at Dawei Millennium Center, which has a well-stocked library of about 8000 English books. The centre offers English language classes since its inauguration in 2007.
Last week, Dr Kyaw Lwin Soe traveled 232 miles to Yangon to accept books donated by the US Embassy and The Asia Foundation.
The book donation ceremony was held at the new American Center on November 1. The US Embassy and The Asia Foundation donated about 11,428 books, covering business, history, literature and children’s books, to over 120 institutions, including community libraries and public high schools in lower Myanmar.
“The books are helpful in improving their English language proficiency and in finding a good career,” Dr Kyaw Lwin Soe said.
The Asia Foundation in partnership with the US Embassy and the Myanmar National Library has been donating new and highquality English-language books, covering educational and children books in Myanmar since 2007. Since 2007, over 235,000 books have been donated to over 400 libraries and educational institutions across the country.
“I have been in diplomacy for more than 30 years and working in seven different countries. All seven countries are wonderful places. But I have never been to anywhere with such a commitment and dedication to building libraries and reading and education,” US Ambassador Scot Marciel told at the ceremony.
“It is hard to get high-quality English language books they [students] can use.
We do it because we think it is a small contribution to support all the teachers and the librarians who are working so hard to educate people,” he said.
“Myanmar has a reading culture. (…) On weekends there is a street dedicated to a book market [in Yangon],” The Asia Foundation’s Country Representative Dr Matthew Arnold said.
He added that The Asia Foundation’s Books for Asia program aims to build a world where every child has access to books, every citizen has access to up-to-date information, and every community leader has access to resources needed to make informed decisions.
The US Embassy and The Asia Foundation hosted a similar ceremony at Jefferson Center Mandalay on November 6, donating books to institutions in upper Myanmar.
US Ambassador Scot Marciel speaks at a book donation ceremony at the new American Center last week.