Mobile Library: Bringing Books to School Children in Yala
The key component of the "Every Child Can Read" campaign
Mobile Library is an innovative project that was established to improve literacy skill of children in underprivileged areas.
These mobile library trucks can travel winding roads, mountains, and forests. The interior is designed to display and store books. Each truck has a driver and a trained "communication officer" who can teach Thai language to children whose mother tongue is not Thai.
Working together is a key part of the activities organized during the half-day visit of UNICEF’s Mobile Library in Yala. In addition to reading and working together, these students enjoy using interactive tools such as reading pens and tablets, which many don’t have at home, coming from disadvantaged backgrounds.
“They were amazing with the device, although it was their first time putting their hands on the tablet, it’s as if they were born with it,” said a staff member with the Mobile Library, impressed by the skills of young students during an interactive reading session with tablets.
Age-appropriate books, reading pens and tablets are rare to come by for many students in the three southernmost provinces. According to the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey or Thailand MICS 2019, only 29 per cent of children under 5 in the South had at least three children's books at home. During the visit of UNICEF’s Mobile Library to Yala in September, very few said they had children's books at home, or any book at all.
During a visit to Ban Buathong School in Than To district of Yala, Rubkwan Tharmmapornphilas, Education Officer at UNICEF Thailand, encourages young students to pick up their favourite books and tools from the Mobile Library.
As part of UNICEF’s ‘Every Child Can Read’ campaign, the Mobile Library project in Yala is run by UNICEF with the Office of the Basic Education Commission to help improve Thai literacy in the three southernmost provinces among children whose mother tongue is the Pattani-Malay language.
Unlike in other areas where the Mobile Library can usually travel and stay overnight on a field, the library visiting schools in Yala must be driven from the base of the Office of the Basic Education Commission in Betong district in the morning to two given schools and back to the office in the evening, which takes around 3-5 hours every day.
Ten-year-old Nurfiradao Chema, a fourth-grade student, borrowed “The Little Red Riding Hood” from school to read with her mother, Mahmeenah Puteh, one afternoon in September 2022. Nurfiradao is among 134 students whose mother tongue is Pattani-Malay at Ban Buathong School in Than To district of Yala province. At the school, students are encouraged to read through extracurricular activities such as spending half-days at UNICEF’s Mobile Library. Many of the books in the Mobile Library are in both Thai and Malay, to help integrate the Thai language into their learning.
Nur-efa Adae, 9, a third-grade student, and her younger sister, Nur-Iman Adae, are reading “The Tortoise and the Hare,” borrowed from their school in September 2022. Books and interactive reading tools are provided at UNICEF’s Mobile Library in Yala, to encourage students to read.
Nasrin Che-Por and her favourite book from the library, “The Star and the Zoo.”
Bassam Che-Etae and his favourite book from the library, “Let’s Grow Rice.”
Hafamee Kahae and her favourite book from the library, “The Shepherd Boy.”
Young students at Ban Buathong School in Than To district of Yala province are taking turns using tablets from UNICEF’s Mobile Library, researching if a dinosaur on the given sheet is a carnivore, herbivore or omnivore. Through this activity and an interactive reading session, they’re also learning that the reptiles used to live in the northeast of Thailand.
"We must make sure all the reading activities are completed because once I enter the scene, the children will be blown away by my costume. They’ll be ready to drop everything right there," said Ramil Tadein of the Office of the Basic Education Commission, wearing a dinosaur costume.
The wrap-up session never disappoints. Although the students of Ban Buathong School in Than To district of Yala province had just learned from their brief research on tablets, provided by UNICEF’s Mobile Library, that the reptile went extinct about 65 million years ago, they enjoyed running around with a dinosaur in the school yard that afternoon in September 2022.