Rotary gets the Phillipines reading
The brainchild of Rotarian Terry Blundell, a retired local primary school principal, the original proposal was to send 50 boxes of reading material to 21 schools in Lingig School District II in the remote area of Surigao del Sur, on the island of Mindanao.
Terry visited this location several years ago and was taken aback by the lack of English reading material in a country with English as its second language. Upon his return he addressed the Rotary Club of Drouin and outlined his vision of “doing something different” to assist those who have so little. With support of local and metropolitan primary schools, book publishers, the Salvation Army, the Drouin Anglican Opportunity Shop and Warehouse, and Rotary’s Donations-In-Kind store, Rotary members collected hundreds of children’s reading books, and packed and shipped them to the Philippines. A Sydney shipping company, Forex, generously subsidised the transport. Since March 2012, 27 cartons of picture story books, novels, early literacy reading material and teachers’ resources have been sent and distributed to the schools and their 2000 students.
Encouraged by the progress, the club applied for and was successful in obtaining a matching grant of $40,000 from The Rotary Foundation to implement the second phase of the program. The application was supported by the Rotary Club of Bislig City, Philippines. The aim of this phase was “to improve teaching and learning outcomes in literacy and maternal health awareness” by providing 22 laptop computers and printers, including solar power installations for schools not connected to the electricity grid.
Coupled with the Maternal Health Awareness program, this would enable these communities to access much-needed guidance and health education. School communities will be able to produce newsletters for better dissemination of information among parents. Another benefit of this part of the program is the assistance to teachers, principals and administrators in the storage and transfer of records and information electronically rather than the laborious and time-consuming methods previously used in those areas.
In November, the first of the pilot schools was presented with their computers and printers at Mahogany Elementary School by President Jojo Paler of the Rotary Club of Bislig City, with a further roll-out undertaken in February. Staged deliveries will continue over the next two years.
Recognising Terry’s experience and commitment to this international literacy project, he was appointed to the Rotary District’s Rotary Foundation Committee.