JAKARTA - Singapore's Minister for Communications and Information, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, and Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono X, the 10th ruler of Yogyakarta, on Monday (Nov 13) launched the Words on Wheels (WoW) mobile library programme in the Indonesian city.
The initiative is a partnership between the Singapore International Foundation (SIF) and Yogyakarta's Provincial Government Board of Library and Archives (BPAD-DIY), and aims to reach out to at least 5,000 students from 10 schools annually over the next three years.
It will also offer free access to English and Bahasa Indonesia educational materials, IT resources and learning facilities to the students four times a week.
Speaking at the launch, Dr Yaacob said it was heartening to see Singaporeans and Indonesians working closely with one another to promote learning and reading, especially among the young. "SIF's Words on Wheels is not just a portable source of knowledge for our young; it is also a vehicle of friendship - bringing Indonesians and Singaporeans together to share ideas and cultures through their mutual love for books," he said.
According to Dr Yaacob, the latest WoW mobile library will build on the success of a similar programme in Bandung, which benefitted close to 13,000 students from 15 schools in the capital of West Java.
He said that the mobile library will be managed by Singapore International Volunteers but specialist volunteers from Singapore's National Library Board will also be sharing their knowledge and expertise with BPAD DIY's library staff to enhance its library management practices.
This latest collaboration comes just two months after Indonesia President Joko Widodo and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong marked the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between their two countries at a Leaders' Retreat in the city-state on Sept 7.
"At the retreat, both our countries pledged to deepen our partnership across a wide range of sectors from defence and trade, to tourism and education," said Dr Yaacob. "People-to-people initiatives also add to this rich tapestry of relationships between our two countries. I am delighted that over the past 26 years, SIF has helped build mutual understanding and more importantly, long-lasting friendships between our peoples through programmes such as Words on Wheels."
BPAD-DIY chief Budi Wibowo on Monday welcomed the partnership with SIF, adding that it is aligned with his organisation's efforts in getting more children interested in reading and
experiencing new ways of accessing knowledge.
"Our cooperation will certainly enable us to engage schools as part of the implementation of the nationwide School Literacy Movement by the Ministry of Education and Culture," said Mr Budi, referring to a national programme that aims to develop students to become lifelong learners.
Dr Yaacob, who has been in Indonesia on an official visit since Sunday, also had breakast with Sultan Hamengkubuwono earlier on Monday.
He will also be meeting Indonesia's Communication and Information Technology Minister, Mr Rudiantara, on Tuesday in Jakarta, as well as representatives from digital companies and tech entrepreneurs, including start-ups operating in an incubation facility launched in July this year by NUS Enterprise and Salim Group.
Called BLOCK71 Jakarta, the facility provides a platform for Singaporean and Indonesian entrepreneurs to network.