Now that students have to deal distance and blended learning because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Senator Sonny Angara said today that public libraries and barangay reading centers should be utilized to assist them in coping with the new challenges in education.
Because face-to-face learning is discouraged as part of the precautionary measures in place to prevent the spread of the virus, students and teachers alike were forced to adjust to the blended and distance learning methods, which have been in most part, difficult for everyone concerned.
Foremost among the challenges faced by the teachers and students is the availability of distance learning tools such as computers, smartphones or tablets and internet connectivity.
Angara said government should do its part in exploring all options to provide students, particularly those in the public school system, all the resources they require to adapt to education in the new normal.
He said that public libraries and barangay reading centers should be tapped to provide distance learning resources to students.
“I don’t think we are fully utilizing our public libraries. This could be because of the lack of useful resources that students need these days. Now everything is shifting towards digital and libraries should do the same if they want to remain relevant and useful to the public,” Angara said.
Angara recently filed Senate Bill 1879 to strengthen the Philippine public library system by ensuring that these facilities are continuously updated to include the latest computer and electronic library technology.
The bill seeks to amend Republic Act 7743 or the law providing for the establishment of congressional, city and municipal libraries and barangay reading centers throughout the country, which was enacted back in 1994.
While not all cities and municipalities of the country have public libraries and barangay reading centers, those that already have these facilities should have complete standard sets of books, e-books, online research resources, subscriptions to online academic journals, databases and periodicals.
They should also have the latest electronic library system for storing, cataloging and filing of data and materials.
Support will be provided by the National Library to update these libraries and reading centers, in coordination with the local government unit concerned.
“Apart from being repositories of information, public libraries should also provide free fast internet connectivity and ICT equipment for the use of the communities they serve. All of these tools are now more important than ever under the new normal,” Angara said.
Under the bill, public libraries and reading centers would also be used as a venue for seminars, training modules, webinars and activities that aim to increase the functional literacy rate, encourage a culture of reading, self-study and lifelong learning, preserving the local heritage and history, and promoting nationalism, socio-civic consciousness and harmony throughout the local community.
By the year 2022, it is envisioned that all cities and municipalities of the Philippines will be provided with an electronically-operated library system.
The bill provides for an increase in the budget of the National Library by P500 million a year until all cities and municipalities are provided and have full access to full electronic library facilities.