Everyyear, the students of Elem Elementary School in Sultan Kudarat endure readingold and tattered books just to quench their thirst for knowledge. The schoolhas not received new supply of books since it was founded in 1982.
Thoughthe books are outdated, 12-year-old Jovy still enjoys reading them. Heloves reading so much that even during summer vacation he chooses to go toschool just to read. Jovy placed first in his class last year, butbecause of poverty, his parents are unsure if he could continue on to Grade 6when school starts this June.
At19 years old, Artemio is still a grade 5 student at Elem. But likeJovy 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 tohelp themselves and compensate for their school's lack of reading materials.
Accordingto the Department of Education (DepEd), the low budget allotted for themaffects the production and distribution of books to public schools all over thecountry. Furthermore, the remote locations of schools like Elem make itdifficult for DepED to send new books. Going to the mountainous area of Elemalone takes 12 hours of travel, coming from the city of Tacurong in SultanKudarat.
However,the DepEd has included Elem Elementary School in their list of recipients fornew supplies this coming school year. Award-winning journalist Sandra Aguinaldodocuments the journey of the new books as teachers deliver them to the studentsof Elem in her documentary "Book to School," airing this Monday midnight onI-Witness on GMA-7.