Ransel Buku project Borneo

Ransel Buku project

New library founded by MEDyARTE Foundation

Yayasan Harapan Pendidikan Borneo is an NGO providing educational programmes for the villages near Palang Karaya in Central Kalimantan, Borneo and was founded by Aini Abdul in 2002.

Aini grew up in a small village in the local area and later became a teacher and a tourist guide. In the course of her work she observed the lack of adequate educational provision for village children. Coupled with her own childhood experiences she was spurred into action – her dream was to create a network of libraries in the villages along the Kalimantan rivers.

She started a Ransel Buku programme. Directly translated, Ransel Buku means “backpack of books” and initially Aini brought books to remote villages in a bag to help children learn to read and to nurture within them a love for books.

A year ago, she managed to secure funding to build a library in Katimpun village, 17 km away from the city of Palang Karaya. She successfully employed two permanent qualified teachers who divide their time between working in Katimpun library and travelling with a floating library to four other local villages. On a daily basis, a librarian visits a different village with a bag of books. Elders of the villages involved have allocated a building where children can sit and read the books throughout the day while the librarian supports them as well as organises various activities.

In the library in Katimpun, children have free access to books and receive structured teaching based on an enrichment programme comprising topics on the environment, health and culture. In addition teachers provide whatever educational support children require including writing, maths and sciences.

Before the library was operational only two out of thirty students at the local school were able to pass national exams on completion of their education but this year 100% of students were successful thanks to the support of the librarians.

The local community is fully supportive of the library programme and appreciates the amazing progress they can see in their children. Villagers actively participated, on a voluntary basis, in the building of the library facility in Katimpun, and now continue to contribute to its upkeep.

The library also provides a valuable cultural and social focal point for the local people. Dance and singing lessons are provided by local dance teachers from the Hornbill Academy of Traditional Dance in Palang Karaya, and it acts as a meeting place for adults, maintaining and promoting community spirit.

The library programme has been so successful that other villages have been enquiring about building their own. The villages in question are less remote but despite this no less underprivileged in many ways, especially with regard to education provision. Their better accessibility is an attraction as this reduces potential future transport expenses.

Yayasan Harapan Pendidikan Borneo approached MEDyARTE Foundation to help with renovation of two existing buildings in two of these villages and their conversion into libraries. Additionally, Yayasan Harapan Pendidikan Borneo would like to employ two new teachers. MEDyARTE Foundation has agreed to fund this project.

Only absolutely essential items will need to be bought in. Book shelves and tables are going to be ordered from a local woodwork shop. Mural paintings are going to be done members of the project and local volunteers.

Yayasan Harapan Pendidikan Borneo plans to involve the whole community in the refurbishment and envisages many parties in the village working together to achieve success. This community involvement is a unique feature of all Yayasan Harapan Pendidikan Borneo programmes and one they are passionate about; it aims to create a sense of belonging and unity.

Yayasan Harapan Pendidikan Borneo NGO normally provides lunch for all who help and in a limited number of cases a very small financial reimbursement. Most of the work is expected to be done voluntarily. Background assessment done by Yayasan Harapan Pendidikan Borneo indicates that the villagers are happy to work together to build a child friendly libraries in the proposed villages.

The maintenance of the buildings is expected to be done voluntarily by the villagers on an ongoing basis.

Yayasan Harapan Pendidikan Borneo estimates that two further librarians/teachers are needed to work in the new libraries and to supplement the currently overwhelmed teacher providing the floating library program. At present the floating library reaches 4 remote villages but this may expand in the future. The new librarians/teachers will be working 6 days a week (Mondays to Saturdays) at the library/learning centres.

Opening of the new library in Marang 13th May 2018

Our first library in Marang, Central Kalimantan, has now been officially opened.

This project was an exciting and on occasion frustrating journey with many challenges along the way but ultimately exceptionally rewarding and worthwhile.

We were very lucky to work in partnership with Bornean NGO and consequently benefitted from hands-on support, invaluable background knowledge and an enthusiastic local population keen to get personally involved.

A lot of work was done voluntarily by inhabitants of the village, eager for the library to be completed.

The opening ceremony was very emotional for all present.

We are incredibly proud to have achieved so much. Hopefully this will be a sustainable development which will make a lasting difference to many young people over the years.

You are warmly invited to read some first-hand accounts of the opening ceremony here.

See pictures

Visit to the newly opened library – September 2018

Two trustees visited the library in Marang in order to personally assess work which has been done there. The building has been renovated to a good standard, with beautiful paintings livening the walls. Shelves were full of colourful new books suitable for all age groups. Most importantly however the children have shown remarkable enthusiasm and commitment to their studies. To welcome us they prepared several traditional dances and songs which were perfectly executed. It was a delight to watch their proud, smiley faces.

The library boasts one full time teacher as well as two part time volunteer teachers. This allows for regular sessions to be held in the library building for 80 children everyday as well as for daily visits on the floating library to the surrounding villages. We accompanied two of the teachers on their floating library visit: here we spent a few hours playing and chatting to children on mats spread under palm trees describing life in Europe, different types of food, seasons, buildings, animals…What was remarkable according to the teachers, was that the library activities and books have helped these children become more confident, develop awareness of the outside world, become curious about life in a positive way and start to have dreams and aspirations for their future.

Parents of the children from Marang village were eternally grateful for this project. All the other local villages are also keen to have children’s libraries open in their localities. We are hoping to design a way to more objectively measure the improvement in the children’s performance as a result of the positive influence of the libraries and teachers.

See pictures

Watch the video “One year later”

Amazing progress in Marang library

One full year has now passed since the new library in Marang opened its doors to the local children. Liliana, the teacher employed by MEDyARTE, together with Dany a volunteer teaching assistant, have worked wonders with a group of 120 keen youngsters who attend the library on a daily basis. Liliana has recently assessed children to look at their overall progress with the aim of establishing the effectiveness of the Library project.  The findings have proved to be quite astounding.
Prior to the opening of the facility only 73% of children at grade 1-3 were able to read while now nearly all (95%) children are fluent readers.
In the older age group (grade 5-6) previously nearly half of the children were able to read a passage in a book but could not comprehend it. A year later all children in this age group can read and fully understand the text and feel confident to share the story with other children.
Prior to the library opening 50% of children used to have difficulty in solving simple maths problems and understanding the meaning of maths symbols and numbers. Now only a small minority continue to have such problems.
Dance performance
Finally, from the cultural perspective the number of children who can perform traditional dances has increased four-fold and all of them have became much more confident to do so in public. This amazing progress has happened even before the traditional Dayak dance and music programme has been fully implemented!
Well done Liliana and Dany!  We are looking forward to hearing about the children’s national exam results and wish them all luck!