Last December, I visited one subdistrict in East Manggarai Regency for a school selection. Rainbow Reading Gardens is planning to collaborate in developing a child-friendly library in Lamba Leda Sub-district, East Manggarai. This sub-district is located about 160 km away from East Manggarai capital, Borong. I left Labuan Bajo by van in the morning and it took 4 hours to get to the capital of Manggarai Regency, Ruteng. I have to take another 3-hour trip from Ruteng by a public van. Unfortunately, the public van from Ruteng to Lamba Leda operates once a day at 10am, while I arrived at Ruteng at 2pm. So, I have to spend one night at Ruteng and moved the next day.
It was 10am and the van picked me up in front of my hotel. “Bapak, nekarabo. I need to pick up other passengers. Once the seats are full, we can go,” said the driver. I said okay. The road from Ruteng to Lamba Leda is like zigzags, yet we could see the beautiful greeny view, typical Flores.
At 2pm, I arrived at Lamba Leda. I was welcomed by Bapak Yoakim Nuruk, the principal of SMPN 1 Lamba Leda and he offered me to stay at his house during the school selection process. Pak Yoakim is a dedicated principal, eager to work for the advancement of education in East Manggarai. Being teachers for years makes him understand the various challenges in rural areas, one of which is the limited infrastructure. The era we are living in is getting more advanced, and so is technology. However, the inexistence of electricity in most Lamba Leda areas leads to the limitation during the learning process. “Students are demanded to be more aware of the technology in this digital era, yet the infrastructure in Eastern Indonesia is limited,” he said. Last year, SMPN 1 Lamba Leda received computers and power supply from Filantropi Semesta foundation. Principal and teachers were also trained on the computer laboratory management. “Thank God, I have the chance to meet good people willing to advance the education in Lamba Leda. I have a dream that the kids in Lamba Leda can use the computers for real, not only via text books,” he mentioned. Pak Yoakim and his wife, who is also a teacher, are parents to some foster children. They come from areas with difficult access from the school, and they live at his house for free. “The kids came to me asking my permission to live in this house. I answered they can, but they have to go to school,” he added. Pak Yoakim is a figure of education warrior who teaches me to keep working on the advancement of education in this republic.
On the next day, I went to one school for the library development program school selection. SD Wae Ciu has 178 students and 13 teachers. The school consists of 7 student groups and 1 distant class. It indeed has a library building, but it does not look like a library. This room is used as a storage room and a “kitchen”.
The building construction is good, but due to irregular maintenance, some parts are damaged. This building was built in 2009 by the Education, Youth, and Sport of East Manggarai Regency. The building is also equipped with bookshelves and some text books.
There are a number of factors which can influence the habit of reading. Kids are willing to read if the environment, either at school or at home, support them. The availability of books based on their reading ability should also be underlined. Rainbow Reading Gardens with all stakeholders are working to create child-friendly libraries. Can you imagine how can kids be willing and like reading if the school libraries are far from friendly for them. Rainbow Reading Gardens’ main goal is to develop the habit of reading especially in the Eastern Indonesia. Why Eastern Indonesia in particular? What we can see is that this particular area has limited access to books, in addition to the limited infrastructure.
In Januari 2017, the selected school will collaborate with Rainbow Reading Gardens for the library development, to be a child-friendly library. Rainbow Reading Gardens will also provide capacity building for the principal, teachers and librarian regarding the library management and reading activities. The school is expected to be the “Role Model” for other schools in this regency by collaborating with the Education, Youth, and Sport Agency of East Manggarai.
Rainbow Reading Gardens reaching Lamba Leda is a result of a collaboration with Filantropi Semesta foundation. Basically, the key to the problems is collaboration. Rainbow Reading Gardens invites everyone to take part in the advancement of education, especially in the literacy area to get more rainbows painted in the Eastern Indonesia. Best regards!.
Novia Debi Wicaksono
Lamba Leda, 2 December 2016.