This February, the Daw Khin Kyi Foundation launched their third mobile libraries project to reach out to students in the Kalaw township, Shan State, Myanmar. Established in 2010 by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, in loving memory of her mother Daw Khin Kyi, the Daw Khin Kyi Foundation is a non-profit charitable foundation, supported by local and international well-wishers from around the world.
 
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ARTICLE 1
A Report on the 22nd AAF/TC3-JAMA Meeting, Yogyakarta

ARTICLE 2
Mazda Motor Corporation joins hands with its local partner and Daw Khin Kyi Foundation to launch the mobile libraries project in Myanmar.

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The foundation first launched the mobile libraries project in 2013 with the donation of two buses from Hino Motors. Their objective was the promotion of health, education and living standards of the people of Myanmar, irrespective of ethnicity, race or religion. The initiative was especially focused on the needs of Myanmar’s least developed areas. In order to help the foundation to reach out to more communities, Mazda rendered help by donating two additional Mazda one tonne pick-up trucks. With a smaller sized body, the Mazda BT-50 pickup trucks enjoy easier access into mountainous and rural areas. Currently, there are more than 25,000 members actively participating in the program and this number continues to increase every day.

The representative from Mazda Motor Corporation1, Mr. Yoichi Miyaji said the Mazda trucks are outfitted with a bookshelf, boxes as well as other basic equipment, and specially designed to suit the grueling conditions of mountainous and rural areas. “Education is an important driver of economic empowerment for Myanmar. Hoping to fulfill children’s intellectual curiosities, Mazda decided to engage its local partner to lend a helping hand to the Daw Khin Kyi Foundation.”

The Project Director of the foundation, Dr. Thant Thaw Kaung2 said the mobile library is the very first of its kind in Myanmar. Although there are many schools and public libraries in Myanmar, most of them are inactive. It is more practical to have a mobile library that can be deployed regularly and be stationed in areas where school students are found, and eventually within whole local communities. More importantly, the mobile library will help the foundation to directly understand the needs of the school children who they reach out to.

The mobile libraries make their rounds fortnightly, visiting two to three schools daily and are stationed for three to four hours each time. Each student is allowed to borrow two books at a time. All the books come with a barcode so they can be easily tracked by an e-library system. Students are also allowed to exchange books among themselves. The mobile libraries are also open to local communities, village dwellers and school teachers. Hence, it is important to replenish the mobile libraries with more new books, magazines and newspapers in order to encourage these communities to read. “Most of the people in Myanmar are not illiterate. They just don’t read because they can’t afford books, or to travel far,” said Dr. Thant.

Mr. Daw Mya Mya Win, a Primary School Principal said, “Our school also has a library, and so does this village. But both libraries don’t have many books as they are too small. Fortunately, the mobile library brings a lot of books to us and in a variety, too. There are books on arithmetic, culture, religion, science and other topics. So, it is very good for our kids.” Another Primary School Principal, Mr. U Than Tun, from Peinnwe Kone village also said that the school used to buy essay books and other books worth reading for the school library. But they cannot afford to buy many books. Fortunately, the mobile library brings the school a variety of books to help enrich their students’ knowledge.

A student from Peinnwe Kone village said, “I usually read in the morning at home. Today, I borrowed a book about the struggle of independence by General Aung San and his comrades as well as a book entitled “Buddhism”. I borrowed these books because I want to know how our national heroes tried to regain independence. My favorite writer is Dagon Shwe Myar. Before the mobile library came to us, I read at the village library, which doesn’t have many books. But this mobile library has a lot of books which I want to read.”

The success of the mobile library program has also encouraged Dr. Thant to introduce computer training and English courses to the public. He hopes that these initiatives can help people to learn new skills and improve their daily lives. “Transforming a society takes time. Education is one of the key elements to transforming this country. The improvement of infrastructure and transportation to reach the people in rural areas is also playing an important part. Hence, we are thankful to Mazda for providing us mobile libraries so that we can reach the people who need us. Myanmar needs more responsible entrepreneurs who believe in sustainability, accountability and corporate social responsibility. We hope this program will inspire other companies to follow suit3 ,” said Dr. Thant.

As people become more familiar with the mobile libraries, the membership numbers also increase. This, in turn, reflects a higher rate of reading among the locals and students. Mazda committed itself to making ever-greater efforts in developing better quality and environment friendly vehicles to prepare for the future motorization of the country.
1The donation of a mobile library by Mazda Motor Corporation was through its local distributor in Myanmar-Automobile Alliance Co., Ltd. and its partner company Cycle & Carriage Automobile Myanmar Co., Ltd
2Dr. Thant Thaw Kaung is the Project Director of the Daw Khin Kyi Foundation and in charge of volunteers. He is also the CEO of Myanmar Book Centre Co., Ltd and Executive Director of Myanmar Book Aid & Preservation Foundation.
3Any company or person who is keen to participate in the project, or contribute in any way, through the donation of money, books and journals can approach the Daw Khin Kyi Foundation or Dr. Thant Thaw Kaung directly.

 

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A Report on the 22nd AAF/TC3-JAMA Meeting, Yogyakarta

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