Bulacan- Seeing no regular school library around, a public servant went out of his way to give a small town school a science library-in-a-box to strengthen the science and math proficiency of its students.
Recently, Commission on Audit State Auditor Gerson Cepe visited Lambakin Elementary School in Barangay Lambakin, San Miguel, Bulacan to personally hand over a set of Science and Technology Academic Research-Based Openly Operated Kiosks or STARBOOKS to 400 elementary students who unfortunately have never set foot in a library.
The school used to have five units of computers donated by the education department in 2014. Less than a year after, some looters allegedly broke in and took all the computers meant for students. As Grade 6 teacher Lorena Lapuz said, heartless elements selfishly “robbed them (students) of better education.”
Developed by the Department of Science and Technology’s Science and Technology Information Institute (DOST-STII), STARBOOKS is the country’s first stand alone digital science and technology (S&T) library housing thousands of S&T reference materials in various formats. It contains a wide selection of reference materials including research papers, books, analytics, tutorial videos, investigative papers, and many more.
The digital library is an ideal research and learning tool for schools in rural areas where Internet connectivity is either weak or zero.
“With the current slow Internet connectivity especially in the remote areas, students hardly keep up with their research assignments as online research isn’t always reliable,” said Lloyd Frederick Mandapat, science research specialist from STII.
Further, to make STARBOOKS more user friendly, STII requires beneficiaries to use routers to enable network connectivity so researchers using tablets and smart phones can also access its contents.
It is also cheaper and more practical as it does not require dedicated rooms to store volumes of materials for students to read through, a problem in rural schools where textbooks and reference materials are scarce.
“What’s good about STARBOOKS is that the schools do not have to procure general references on science and math topics,” Mandapat added.
All information are stored in a single computer with an off-the-shelf high storage capacity. Its contents are also periodically upgraded by STII.
Cepe realized that bringing STARBOOKS to the community will boost students’ proficiency especially in science and mathematics.
“In my years as a public servant, I find STARBOOKS a noble government project that helps our younger generation in gaining a wealth of knowledge in science,” Cepe said during one of his interactions with local teachers. He explained that STARBOOKS is a nice gift to students and teachers of the school where his wife spent her earlier years.
“STARBOOKS also contains livelihood videos for parents who are entrepreneurial. It also has interactive K-12 materials so students can easily understand the lessons,” he added.
Moreover, Lapuz averred that STARBOOKS makes teaching easier. “Instead of preparing for visual aids for the lessons, we will just search for a video topic on STARBOOKS and flash it on screen. Students prefer watching videos rather than us discussing the lessons.”
Lapuz also added that with the implementation of K-12 program, most students do not have textbooks. “They do not have books because the K-12 program is a new curriculum while those in Grade 6 still use the old curriculum textbooks,” she shared.
“With STARBOOKS, students can learn faster in a fun and easier way,” she noted.
Students and teachers of the remote Lambakin Elementary School in Barangay Lambakin, San Miguel, Bulacan are glad to be the newest beneficiaries of DOST-STII’s STARBOOKS as it will fill the knowledge gap caused by the lack of a school library. The STARBOOKS unit donated by State Auditor Gerson Cepe is timely as the school tries to recover from a computer looting incident a year ago. (Photo by Joy M. Lazcano, S&T Media Service, DOST-STII)