Every year, the students of Elem Elementary School in Sultan Kudarat endure reading old and tattered books just to quench their thirst for knowledge. The school has not received new supply of books since it was founded in 1982.
Though the books are outdated, 12-year-old Jovy still enjoys reading them. He loves reading so much that even during summer vacation he chooses to go to school just to read. Jovy placed first in his class last year, but because of poverty, his parents are unsure if he could continue on to Grade 6 when school starts this June.
At 19 years old, Artemio is still a grade 5 student at Elem. But like Jovy and the other students of the school, Artemio wants to finish his studies. Students of Elem copy the contents of their old books in their notebooks to help themselves and compensate for their school's lack of reading materials.
According to the Department of Education (DepEd), the low budget allotted for them affects the production and distribution of books to public schools all over the country. Furthermore, the remote locations of schools like Elem make it difficult for DepED to send new books. Going to the mountainous area of Elem alone takes 12 hours of travel, coming from the city of Tacurong in Sultan Kudarat.
However, the DepEd has included Elem Elementary School in their list of recipients for new supplies this coming school year. Award-winning journalist Sandra Aguinaldo documents the journey of the new books as teachers deliver them to the students of Elem in her documentary "Book to School," airing this Monday midnight on I-Witness on GMA-7.