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15 May 2014

Words on Wheels mobile library brings the joy of cross-cultural learning to over 3,000 children in Ho Chi Minh City

The Singapore International Foundation (SIF) is partnering with the General Sciences Library (GSL) to bring the SIF's signature Words on Wheels mobile digital library programme to over 3,000 primary and secondary schoolchildren in Ho Chi Minh City over the next three years. Sponsored by Keppel Land Limited and supported by its Vietnamese joint venture partners Tan Truong and Tien Phuoc, the programme will enable Singapore volunteers to introduce new English and IT learning tools for the children, as well as training for the school and GSL library staff.

The SIF's Words on Wheels was previously implemented in Hanoi and is currently serving in Bandung, Indonesia, impacting a combined total of 8,000 children in both countries. The SIF saw how the programme opened a new window to the world for the children, bringing them access to new knowledge about the people and life outside their immediate environment. Launched today, Words on Wheels Ho Chi Minh City will build on these successes to implement an enhanced programme which will include, for the first time, English language and IT literacy skills and specialist training in Library Management.

Over three years, the Words on Wheels mobile digital library will bring free access to educational materials, IT resources and learning facilities to five schools and three cultural centres in the Binh Chanh district four times a month. An estimated 300 Singapore volunteers will undertake monthly trips to conduct classes aimed at improving English communications and IT learning skills and facilitating cross-cultural interactions for the 3,000 schoolchildren.

In addition, specialist Singapore volunteers will conduct training classes for 24 GSL staff, local librarians and teachers in enhanced library management and IT skills. These trainees are in turn expected to share their knowledge and skills with their Vietnamese peers, equipping more local professionals to bring the benefits of the library to greater numbers of children in the long run.

SIF, GSL and partners will work together to achieve the project objectives, including:

  • Providing schoolchildren, students and community in the local province of Ho Chi Minh City with accessing educational materials, information and technology and supporting learning tools.
  • Building and developing reading habits and self-studying through activities at school and cultural centres, encouraging long- life-learning.
  • Developing abilities, confident communication and learning skills for children to connect the world.
  • Building the friendship between Vietnam and Singapore.

The mobile library van was unveiled in a launch ceremony held on 15 May 2014. The ceremony was attended by Singapore and Vietnamese partners, including Mr Le Ton Thanh, Vice Director, Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Ms Leow Siu Lin, Consul-General of the Republic of Singapore in Ho Chi Minh City, Ms Elim Chew, Governor, SIF, Mr Bui Xuan Duc, Director, GSL, and Mr Doan Anh Hung, General Manager of Keppel Land (Vietnam).

Ms Elim Chew, SIF Governor, said, "Words on Wheels is more than just a mobile library, it is really about "connecting". We bring together Singapore and Vietnamese partners to share resources and the joy of cross-cultural learning to schoolchildren in Ho Chi Minh City. The SIF hopes to inspire the spirit of cross-cultural friendship and collaboration to all those who are touched by the programme – whether they are students, volunteers, librarians or organisations. We especially hope that this project will equip children with critical knowledge and learning skills to build a better life for themselves."

Said Mr Bui Xuan Duc from GSL, "Words on Wheels will connect the people of Ho Chi Minh City and Singapore, as well as develop good reading habits for schoolchildren, eliminating the hunger for information and technology – whether through the volunteers conducting classes for the schoolchildren, or library and teaching staff exchanging best practices on library management. This partnership will strengthen GSL's mission of being a leading resource centre for information, culture and education for residents in Ho Chi Minh City and southern provinces."

Keppel Land is partnering SIF for the third time, following the successful Words on Wheels in Hanoi and the Water for Life (Yangon) project in Myanmar. Mr Linson Lim, President, Keppel Land (Vietnam), said, "As a global citizen, we believe that as communities thrive, we thrive. Our operations often take us into the heart of many local communities and in Vietnam, where we have been operating for over two decades, we want to continue to enrich and impact the lives of the people here. Beyond monetary contributions, we are pleased that our employees across the Keppel Group have also lent their time as volunteers during the visits to the outer provinces of Ho Chi Minh City. Through our continued support, we hope the Words on Wheels project will open a window to the world to these children."

Ms Leow Siu Lin, Consul-General of the Republic of Singapore in Ho Chi Minh City, said, "Words on Wheels is a strong example of the longstanding friendship between the people of Singapore and Vietnam, as it serves to foster people-to-people ties between our two countries which have enjoyed excellent relations since the establishment of diplomatic relations 41 years ago."

2014 marks the 20th anniversary of the SIF's work in providing platforms and opportunities for the people of Singapore and Vietnam to come together to build friendships, to do good and build understanding in meaningful ways. The SIF's work in Vietnam comprises of community development and capacity-building projects focused in the areas of education and healthcare, as well as hosting Vietnamese government officials and students in Singapore for exchange and visit programmes.

ABOUT KEPPEL LAND LIMITED

One of Asia's premier property companies, Keppel Land is recognised for its sterling portfolio of award-winning residential developments and investment-grade commercial properties as well as high standards of corporate governance and transparency.

The Company is geographically diversified in Asia, with Singapore and China as its core markets, and Vietnam and Indonesia as its growth markets. It focuses on a two-pronged strategy of property development for sale and property fund management.

In Vietnam, Keppel Land is one of the pioneers and largest foreign real estate investors with a diverse portfolio of properties in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Dong Nai and Vung Tau including Grade A offices, residential properties, integrated townships and award-winning serviced apartments.

With 18 licensed projects across Vietnam and a pipeline of about 22,000 homes, Keppel Land is establishing itself as the choice developer, distinguished by quality and innovative lifestyle concepts.

These include International Centre and Sedona Suites Royal Park in Hanoi, Saigon Centre, Villa Riviera, The Estella, Riviera Cove and Riviera Point as well as the South Rach Chiec township in Ho Chi Minh City and the Dong Nai waterfront city.

Backed by experience and expertise in property development, and the hallmark excellence that it brings to all its developments, Keppel Land continues to introduce new and innovative developments in Vietnam.

ABOUT SINGAPORE INTERNATIONAL FOUNDATION

The Singapore International Foundation makes friends for a better world.

We build enduring relationships between Singaporeans and world communities, and harness these friendships to enrich lives and effect positive change.

Our work is anchored in the belief that cross-cultural interactions provide insights that strengthen understanding. These exchanges inspire action and enable collaborations for good.

Our programmes bring people together to share ideas, skills and experiences in areas such as healthcare, education, the environment, arts and culture, as well as livelihood and business.

We do this because we believe we all can, and should, do our part to build a better world, one we envision as peaceful, inclusive and offering opportunities for all.

Find out more at www.sif.org.sg

ABOUT GENERAL SCIENCES LIBRARY (GSL)

The General Sciences Library of Ho Chi Minh City, one of the largest libraries in South Vietnam, provides a wide range of services from Ninh Thuan to Ca Mau provinces. The GSL's mission is to develop a culture of public reading and become a core resource centre for information, culture and education for HCM residents.

The GSL responsible for collecting and maintaining materials of all kinds published inside and outside the country. With approximately 2,000,000 items of document, the library serves approximately 1,000,000 users yearly. At the same time, the library performs many other functions, such as supporting provincial libraries and conducting training courses to improve professional skills of staff and arranges topical conferences for libraries of the districts and provinces.

Find out more at www.gslhcm.org.vn

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