Recently, community pantries sprout like mushrooms in many parts of the country to fill the empty stomach of our hungry kababayans.
But in T’boli dominated village of Nalus in Kiamba town, Sarangani Province, teachers and volunteers put up something to feed not just the stomach of the learners but as well as to feed the brain with more knowledge — a community reading pantry.
John Paderal Constantino, coordinator of the Read at Home Program of the Department of Education Sarangani Province Division, said that the teachers of Tabotong Elementary School in Barangay Nalus has launched community reading pantry as part of its reading program.
The DepEd Sarangani Division launched last year the Read at Home Program days after the start of the school year. [Ready my story here]
The community reading pantry, Constantino said, was initiated by the school’s head teacher Evelyn Vergara, which aims to encourage more learners to read and share any available learning resources to the community.
Just like any community pantries, a note was also posted in the community reading pantry but in T’boli dialect “Bnasahem yom son tngonem, nwahem yom son knoyoem” and translated in Filipino as: “Bumasa ayon sa nalalaman, kumuha ayon sa nagugustuhan.”
In a Facebook post of the Sarangani Division, Vergara explained that the community reading pantry aims to provide more opportunities to the learners to utilize available learning resources of the school.
Sheiryl Abo-abo, reading coordinator for the Tabotong Elementary School, told Manila Bulletin that they have pooled in various learning materials from the school while some were given by kind-hearted individuals and the local government unit.
“We just keep on printing the reading materials and then give them to our volunteers who are assisting the young learners. While some are directly given to the learners who already knowns how to read,” explained Abo-abo.
The community reading pantry is open every Tuesday and will cater learners from kindergarten to Grade 6, she added.
“We are also giving away modest snacks to the children who would come to our community reading pantry to participate in the reading exercises,” the teacher bared.
Abo-abo said that they are also accepting donations of even used books as well as food for the learners..
The volunteer-driven program aims to assist learners particularly from kindergarten to third grade level particularly in the indigenous peoples communities.
Almost 40 percent of the learners in the province belong to the indigenous peoples (IP)and are in need of assistance since many of the parents are struggling readers, according to DepEd official in the province.
Meanwhile, Vergara emphasized that the teachers are also observing basic health protocols at the community reading pantry. “Proper social distancing, may alcohol po kami, yong health kits din po ng mga bata nagagamit po nila sa handwashing.”