Do­nated books help stu­dents

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - Weekend|more Art - ZON PANN PWINT

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.

Pho­tos: Nyan Zay Htet

US Am­bas­sador Scot Mar­ciel speaks at a book do­na­tion cer­e­mony at the new Amer­i­can Cen­ter last week.

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