BATAC CITY – A lot of grievances influx all corners of mass and social media in our country during the implementation of the distant learning. Educators cannot deny the hardship of adjusting to the sudden shift of learning process, much more to the learners and parents who hold not just the responsibility of coping with the financial adversities brought by the fast spreading pandemic.

 The sentiments were crippling to the sense of hearing. The main problem goes down to one culprit: weak or no internet connection at all. The difficulty of accomplishing a week’s queue of modules and activity sheets is impossible without spending a piece of family’s budget in mobile data or internet connection.

In distance learning, reference is a must and the easiest way to supplement the answers and accomplish performance and written tasks is to connect to the internet. Yet, its weakness and unstable presence are the grave concerns of learners and even teachers.  In addition to this struggle is the time consuming effort of parents to check on the progress of their children getting done with their academic tasks.

Thus, the ingenuity of one educator has addressed these pressing issues. This gave birth to a brainchild that would ease the burden and take away worries both from the learners and parents in select barangays of the Schools Division of the City of Batac (SDCB). Along with this solution, is the goal to provide supplementary materials not just in the junior and senior high school, but also to cater to the needs of the kindergarten and elementary pupils in the distant learning.

Who would have thought that the well-known community pantry combined with the division-initiated 911 Klasrum group chats in messenger, gave the lead proponent, Head Teacher III Allan B. Garcia of Batac National High School (BNHS), an idea of realizing the 911 library? Like the community pantry that  supplies the people’s need for food; the 911 library was visualized to supplement the distant learning necessities of the learners. It is like a book pantry of learners’ needs for references and learning. The innovation is also aimed to instill and revive the love of books and reading to the learners. Since face-to-face learning is prohibited, the 911 libraries were organized within the safety of the community. It is accessible and free. It is also a place where community teachers can meet and assist their assigned learners.

The project aims to provide accessible reference materials for the learners through the installation of satellite libraries in select barangays of the City of Batac where there is a limited access to fast and consistent internet connection,” Garcia answered. He added that, “It is going back to the traditional yet reliable and free means of digging knowledge and supplementary information. A learner does not need to navigate around the bushes, between or on top of trees and roofs just to rummage a precious fiber of internet connection. We are thankful for the SDCB with the untiring efforts of our Schools Division Superintendent, Dr. Joel B Lopez, and our partner agencies who supported us to realize this innovation.”

The crafting of the proposal was not easy. Possibilities and risks were taken into consideration by the technical team of the innovation. “During the first reading of Mr. Garcia’s project proposal, I foresee that the 911 library should start humble and should be implemented in such a way that it is easier to manage. So, I suggested that we should implement it first in the three adjacent barangays of our school,” Ditas G. Domingo, Principal IV of the BNHS and the project consultant of the 911 library, said.

She added, “we have chosen then to tap the officials of barangay Baay, Bil-loca, and Bungon and started planning for the implementation.”            

The innovation mobilized not just the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan officials but giant companies and universities in the community and locality. Among those were the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte (PGIN), Magilas Distribution and Trading Corporation, Northwestern University, Northern Christian College which donated one hundred fifty thousand worth of high-quality books and reference materials and Divine Word College of Laoag with a two hundred fifty thousand worth of book donations. The rush of donations is overwhelming and unimaginable.

Just when the technical team thought that the project will only receive donations within the boundaries of the locality, the Mariano Marcos State University offered their partnership with the Book Loan project for the American Corner of the three 911 libraries. MMSU initiated to lend new batch of books monthly to be utilized by the recipient learners of the three 911 community libraries. And with the use of the social media as the main platform for advertisements and announcements; alumni, educators and other benefactors were inspired to provide support with their donations. And when the technical team thought that donations were limited only to books and reference materials, Wi-Fi modems, bookshelves and tables for the libraries arrived from kind-hearted donors.

“The start of implementation is harder than we thought, because we needed to train the chosen barangay officials to serve as para-librarians for the three community libraries. The whole teaching and non-teaching force of BNHS selflessly gave their support and services for the realization of this innovation,” said  Jocelyn Pagtama, BNHS librarian who served as the trainer of the chosen para-librarians.

The launching and MOA signing of the three 911 libraries were applauded and during the last day of launching, Uguis Integrated Schools from the Schools Division of Ilocos Norte visited BNHS for knowledge management journey and to seek permission for adoption and benchmarking of the innovation.

At present, the three libraries are being utilized by learners not just from the innovations school of origin, but of learners from kindergarten up to senior high school from the different schools who are in need of learning and supplementary references and materials.

“This is a great help to our parents who are trying to make ends meet for the needs of our family, they won’t be forced to pay for additional expenses for mobile data because we will just be using the books as our references,” Althea Bagaoisan, a Grade 10 student of barangay Baay, said after accomplishing some of her activity sheets inside the Baay 911 library.

She added, “the 911 library is a conducive place for studying since it is well-ventilated and I am also excited because Wi-Fi connection will soon be available.” 

“The place is also safe because there is a schedule of visitation for each sitio in our barangay, the rules and regulations are also clearly posted inside the library and the assigned para-librarian of the day strictly implements proper health protocol before and after entering the library. We are also allowed to borrow and bring home books that we need,” Bagaoisan said.

The technical team of the project is still expecting for more donations since a lot of concerned benefactors showed interest to help widen the scope 911 library.  Domingo and Garcia are both willing to assist teachers and school heads in other schools in the SDCB and other divisions who want to adopt the innovation.