MANILA– Vice President Sara Duterte emphasized Wednesday the crucial role of librarians and access to public libraries in the country to address learning loss and insurgency.

CRUCIAL ROLE Vice President Sara Duterte delivers her speech before the Philippine Librarians Association, Inc. (PLAI), the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, and the National Library of the Philippines as they celebrate the Annual National Congress 2022 on Wednesday (November 23, 2022) in Iloilo. Duterte discussed the crucial role of librarians and access to public libraries in addressing post-pandemic learning loss and several societal challenges. (Photo courtesy: Office of the Vice President)



“Our librarians in the Philippines will always have a friend in the Office of the Vice President because I believe in your contribution to our education. Not just to our learners, but even to our adults. Lahat ng residents at lahat ng ating mga kababayan (All of our residents and countrymen), they deserve libraries everywhere they go and every place they visit,” Duterte said in her speech as she led the Annual National Congress 2022 of the Philippine Librarians Association, Incorporated in Iloilo City.

Duterte said the role of the librarians in the learning progress among learners is just part of the government’s whole-of-society approach, as the government intensifies its effort to recover from the impact of the global coronavirus pandemic.

She noted that one of the areas that needed to be addressed in the post-pandemic learning loss is literacy, so there is a need for the public to go back to reading.

She said reading physical copies should be a timeless feat despite the dominance of digital resources.

“But one of the crucial learning losses that the Department of Education wants to remedy is reading. Both parents and teachers play unassailable roles in the success of our campaign to ensure that our learners are able to read and understand what they are reading,” she said.

Reading tool vs. insurgency

The Vice President, however, said learners’ literacy is not limited to reading but also involves access to verified information which is significant for learners’ awareness to come up with sound decision-making against the “deceitful ways of recruitment of the NPA and terrorists.”

“Reading books and accessing correct information from proper, dependable, credible sources improves our young learners’ capacity to navigate life’s ups and downs and gives them a greater understanding of what is happening to the world… Just as we do not want fake news, confirmation bias, and conspiracy theories to infiltrate our communities and create false beliefs in our people, especially our children,” she said.

“Malaki syempre ang papel ng mga librarians dito (The role of librarians here is huge). The goal of developing children’s reading competency and molding them into productive, responsible, and mentally healthy citizens does not rest on schools and teachers alone,” she added.

Literate, informed society

Besides its significant role for learners, Duterte also shared how well-kept libraries can add up to the literacy of society.

She recalled how her local administration has invested in improving the Davao City Public Library and Information Center to “maintain a literate and informed society.”

“Noong ako po ay mayor, nanalo po ang Davao City ng Best Library (When I was a mayor, Davao City won as the Best library) — three times national and one international awardee ang Davao City Library… Kung lagi kong pinagliliban ang building of the Davao City Library for next year and next year, hindi ko ito magagawa (If I have delayed the construction of its building, we would have not done it),” she said.

She noted that Davao City’s five-story public library is one of the country’s must-visit places, and is considered one of the country’s pride.

“The same is true for Iloilo City’s public library. With bigger, more modernized facilities, our public libraries have evolved from a quiet and quaint repository of books into a dynamic destination center continually promoting social cohesion, equal opportunities for personal development and free education, and initiators of public events for local and national development,” she said.