Butuan City Library in the Philippines is always on the look-out for new partnerships to help serve their community. Butuan is the main city in Caraga Region. Over 40% of families in Caraga are classed as poor, the number of children who drop out of school is high, and digital literacy rates are low.
So in 2015, when the Philippines government launched a major national digital inclusion initiative, the library responded quickly.
The government initiative, titled Technology Empowerment for Education, Employment, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development, or TECH4ED, aims to establish eCentres that provide e-government and ICT-enabled services in every municipality.
The library linked up with the TECH4ED programme in Butuan, and are now offering a package of library-based e-government support and computer literacy services that are boosting family incomes, promoting digital inclusion and helping to improve education.
SUPPORT FOR WORKERS OVERSEAS AND AT HOME
Every year, over two million Filipinos travel abroad to earn higher wages so that they can help support their families back home. “We call them our ‘modern heroes’ for helping our economy with their remittances,” said Jessica Clarito, head of Butuan City Library.
In partnership with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, the library has helped over 10,000 people with online applications for Overseas Employment Certificates.
“This is already my fourth year under a six-year contract as an Overseas Filipino Worker in Dubai. When I found out about Butuan City Library’s services for workers like me, I was really happy because I used to go to Manila just to get my Overseas Employment Certificate, but now it is much closer and there are people who will help you on what you need to do,” says Shereen, who works as a Health Technician in Dubai.
Unemployed people who want to sell skills and services online are taking advantage of the library’s business outsourcing training. The training targets work-from-home jobseekers, and builds their online marketing and contracting skills.
One of the library’s most successful learners is Josephus C. Besto, a young father. He attended the training and now offers photo editing, tarpaulin designing, and Data Entry and Encoding services online, earning an average monthly income of 52,000 Philippine Pesos (about 1,000 USD).
HELPING TEACHERS REGISTER FOR EXAM
In partnership with the Professional Regulation Commission, the library has helped over 1,000 graduate teachers with online registration for the Licensure Examination for Teachers, an exam they must pass before they can be employed in government schools.
“I really don’t know how to use the computer, and if I go to an internet café which is expensive, no one will assist me. But here, in the City Library, the employees are very kind and the computers and internet are free. I am able to save a lot of money on printing, picture scanning and computer usage,” says Nelda O. Maato.
DIGITAL LITERACY FOR ALL
The library’s digital literacy training programme has reached almost a thousand people, out-of school-youth, day care centre volunteers, teenagers living in homes for abandoned children, indigenous people’s groups, students and senior citizens.
Teresita Apit, a volunteer health worker, helps monitor the weight of children from birth to age six.
“I was one of Butuan City Library’s first digital literacy trainees. Before the training, we used to have our data encoded by contract workers, which was expensive. But now I can do it myself. The training has really helped me,” says Teresita.