Words on Wheels Mobile Library Brings the Joy of Cross-Cultural Learning to over 3,000 Children in Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, 15 May 2014 – The Singapore International Foundation (SIF) is partnering with the General Sciences Library (GSL) to bring the SIF’s signature Words on Wheels mobile library programme to over 3,000 primary and secondary schoolchildren in Ho Chi Minh City over the next three years. Sponsored by Keppel Land Limited and supported by its Vietnamese joint venture partners Tan Truong and Tien Phuoc, the programme will enable Singapore volunteers to introduce new English and IT learning tools for the children, as well as training for the school and GSL library staff.

The SIF’s Words on Wheels was previously implemented in Hanoi and is currently serving in Bandung, Indonesia, impacting a combined total of 8,000 children in both countries. The SIF saw how the programme opened a new window to the world for the children, bringing them access to new knowledge about the people and life outside their immediate environment. Launched today, Words on Wheels Ho Chi Minh City will build on these successes to implement an enhanced programme which will include, for the first time, English language and IT literacy skills and specialist training in Library Management.

Over three years, the Words on Wheels mobile library will bring free access to educational materials, IT resources and learning facilities to five schools and three cultural centres in the Binh Chanh district four times a month. An estimated 300 Singapore volunteers will undertake monthly trips to conduct classes aimed at improving English communications and IT learning skills and facilitating cross-cultural interactions for the 3,000 schoolchildren.

In addition, specialist Singapore volunteers will conduct training classes for 24 GSL staff, local librarians and teachers in enhanced library management and IT skills. These trainees are in turn expected to share their knowledge and skills with their Vietnamese peers, equipping more local professionals to bring the benefits of the library to greater numbers of children in the long run.

The mobile library van was unveiled in a launch ceremony held on 15 May 2014. The ceremony was attended by Singapore and Vietnamese partners, including Mr Le Ton Thanh, Vice Director, Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Ms Leow Siu Lin, Consul-General of the Republic of Singapore in Ho Chi Minh City, Ms Elim Chew, Governor, SIF, Mr Bui Xuan Duc, Director, GSL, and Mr Doan Anh Hung, General Manager of Keppel Land (Vietnam).

Ms Elim Chew, SIF Governor, said, “Words on Wheels is more than just a mobile library, it is really about “connecting”. We bring together Singapore and Vietnamese partners to share resources and the joy of cross-cultural learning to schoolchildren in Ho Chi Minh City. The SIF hopes to inspire the spirit of cross-cultural friendship and collaboration to all those who are touched by the programme – whether they are students, volunteers, librarians or organisations. We especially hope that this project will equip children with critical knowledge and learning skills to build a better life for themselves.”

Said Mr Bui Xuan Duc from GSL, “Words on Wheels will connect the people of Ho Chi Minh City and Singapore, as well as develop good reading habits for schoolchildren, eliminating the hunger for information and technology – whether through the volunteers conducting classes for the schoolchildren, or library and teaching staff exchanging best practices on library management. This partnership will strengthen GSL’s mission of being a leading resource centre for information, culture and education for residents in Ho Chi Minh City and southern provinces.”

Keppel Land is partnering SIF for the third time, following the successful Words on Wheels in Hanoi and the Water for Life (Yangon) project in Myanmar. Mr Linson Lim, President, Keppel Land (Vietnam), said, “As a global citizen, we believe that as communities thrive, we thrive. Our operations often take us into the heart of many local communities and in Vietnam, where we have been operating for over two decades, we want to continue to enrich and impact the lives of the people here. Beyond monetary contributions, we are pleased that our employees across the Keppel Group have also lent their time as volunteers during the visits to the outer provinces of Ho Chi Minh City. Through our continued support, we hope the Words on Wheels project will open a window to the world to these children.”

Ms Leow Siu Lin, Consul-General of the Republic of Singapore in Ho Chi Minh City, said, “Words on Wheels is a strong example of the longstanding friendship between the people of Singapore and Vietnam, as it serves to foster people-to-people ties between our two countries which have enjoyed excellent relations since the establishment of diplomatic relations 41 years ago.”

2014 marks the 20th anniversary of the SIF’s work in providing platforms and opportunities for the people of Singapore and Vietnam to come together to build friendships, to do good and build understanding in meaningful ways. The SIF’s work in Vietnam comprises of community development and capacity-building projects focused in the areas of education and healthcare, as well as hosting Vietnamese government officials and students in Singapore for exchange and visit programmes.



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