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Taman Bacaan Pelangi opens its 100th library in eastern Indonesia

Markus Makur

The Jakarta Post

Ende, Flores, East Nusa Tenggara  /  Mon, September 17, 2018  /  11:09 am
Taman Bacaan Pelangi opens its 100th library in eastern Indonesia

Taman Bacaan Pelangi founder Nila Tanzil (left) and Cornelis Wara (right) from Ende's local administration officially opens a new child-friendly library in Nangapanda Catholic elementary school, Ndora Rea 1 village, Ende regency, Flores, East Nusa Tenggara, on Sept. 13. (JP/Markus Makur)

Nonprofit organization Taman Bacaan Pelangi (Rainbow Reading Garden) opened its latest child-friendly library in the Nangapanda Catholic elementary school in Ndora Rea 1 village, Flores, East Nusa Tenggara, on Thursday.

It is the organization’s 100th library in the eastern part of Indonesia, in its eighth year of existence.  

“This is a very touching and historic moment for Taman Bacaan Pelangi,” founder Nila Tanzil told The Jakarta Post at the event. “I’d like to state my gratitude to everyone who has supported us, from schools, parents, local administrations, to volunteers and donors. This would not have been possible without them.”

The ceremony was part of the organization’s third cycle projects, funded by nonprofit organization Room to Read, which aims to improve literacy and gender equality in education. In this particular cycle, Taman Bacaan Pelangi has built 20 libraries in Ende district, alongside 18 built in the previous cycle.

Currently, the libraries are available in Ende, West Manggarai, Manggarai and East Manggarai. Future plans include East Flores, Lembata, Sikka, Nagekeo and Ngada.

Ende Regent Marsel Petu, who was represented by first assistant Cornelis Wara, said it was an honor to work with Taman Bacaan Pelangi for a better future for the children. “Reading is one of life’s basic skills. Let’s use and maintain the library as best as we can, so the children can gain the best results,” he said.

Petrus Guido No, head of the Ende Education and Culture Agency, said that Taman Bacaan Pelangi’s support included physical restoration of the schools’ libraries, the library furniture, providing children’s books, as well as training for the schools’ principals, teachers and librarians. 

“We appreciate Taman Bacaan Pelangi’s concern for the children of Ende. The libraries will immensely help the education quality in the area. We also support the organization’s advocacy in regard to incorporating library visit hours into the school curriculum. This is a great start to building a reading habit,” he said.

Martha Mariati, headmaster of Nangapanda 1 Catholic elementary school, said that a child-friendly library was considered something new in Ende. Teachers, along with the principal and librarians, were given special workshops in library organizing and reading activities that were aimed at boosting children’s reading interests.

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She said the school faced a number of problems in maintaining its library. For instance, the librarians were not equipped with the proper knowledge, while the students’ parents and the school were also financially limited.

“The main challenge for us is how to continuously maintain the library for the sake of the children, including our future students. Nila Tanzil has trusted us and we need to maintain that trust,” she said. “Through workshops, the teachers and librarians have gained so much, in terms of how to be more actively involved in the library and making reading activities exciting for the students. We’ve learned how to go around and listen to the students read, how to praise their work and help those who need it.”

Nila hoped that Taman Bacaan Pelangi libraries would be model libraries for other schools in the eastern part of Indonesia. “Trained teachers can share their knowledge and experiences with teachers whose schools do not yet have child-friendly libraries,” she said.

Afterward, the organization will continue to be the schools’ partners in making sure that everything goes smoothly.

Taman Bacaan Pelangi was founded in 2009 in Roe, Komodo district, West Manggarai. It aims to build child-friendly libraries in secluded and hard-to-reach areas in Indonesia. Up until now, the organization has given out over 200,000 books to more than 26,000 children in 17 islands of east Indonesia, such as Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara and Papua.

Maria L. Y. Ana Dema, principal of Ende 14 elementary school, told the Post on Friday that most children in Flores were only accustomed to two jobs, which were teachers and farmers. The school’s library was previously closed as there were no librarians available.

With the Taman Bacaan Pelangi library in the school, opened in February, Maria said that she saw progress in which students routinely visited the library to read. She said it was made possible as a librarian and the staff of Taman Bacaan Pelangi constantly monitored and accompanied the students. 

Erwina Musa, librarian in Ende 14 school, said with the new library, students would spend break hours reading in the library, even though each class has an allocated weekly visiting hour. “Students have also begun to borrow out books. Storybooks on Rahwana and Hanoman [from the Ramayana epic] are the favorites among them,” she added. (wng)

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