Vietnamese Man Donates Books to Indian Students

Nguyen Quang Thach, the brains behind the initiative 'Books for the Countryside', a pioneering effort dedicated to providing access to literature in the remote corners of Vietnam, has embarked on an ambitious expansion by extending the program to India.

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He confessed that he was deeply moved when he heard hundreds of Indian students chanting ‘Cam on Viet Nam’ (Thank you Vietnam) in unison in their native land.

Thach has journeyed to the South Asian country with the mission of fostering a culture of reading there.

In an interview with Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper, Thach remarked that India boasts the world’s largest population of rural students, with an estimated 200 million of them lacking access to books.

The establishment of Classroom Libraries in India faces challenges stemming from geographical, cultural, and linguistic barriers.

“India is a microcosm of the world, and the success of the Classroom Library model in this nation could inspire other countries to enhance children’s literacy,” he stated.

In justifying his decision to establish libraries in the Philippines and India, despite the fact that the reading culture in Vietnam is still developing, Thach emphasized that the sharing of knowledge transcends national boundaries.

He expressed his belief that expanding the ‘Sach Hoa Nong Thon’ program to other countries would not only benefit local communities but also bring significant advantages to the Vietnamese people.

For instance, some Philippine teachers have volunteered to assist Vietnamese students with learning English after Classroom Libraries were introduced in their schools in December of last year.

The ‘Sach Hoa Nong Thon’ program has made a profound impact in Vietnam over the past decades, providing tens of thousands of bookshelves in rural areas.

Santosh Jagtap (L), chairman of India’s non-governmental organization Swa Eknath nana Jagtap Pratisthan, accompanies Nguyen Quang Thach to give books to schools in India. Photo: Supplied

As numerous Vietnamese individuals, both within the country and abroad, joined hands in sharing books with Indian children and became aware of Thach’s remarkable journey of covering 3,000 kilometers across 29 states in India to collect books, tens of thousands of people were inspired to encourage their friends to contribute to the cause by donating books.

They recognize that knowledge and social responsibility are the keys to Vietnam’s prosperity and global respect.

“I will continue to propose solutions to the Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Training to enhance and encourage reading among local children,” Thach said.

“Hundreds of thousands of bookcases in classrooms, homes, and parishes have been established across localities, and valuable books will be added annually.” 

Thach noted that when Indian students expressed their gratitude by saying ‘Cam on Viet Nam,’ he was deeply moved and inspired to bring more books to India’s rural areas.

Following India, Thach plans to spread the Classroom Library model to 30 other countries across Asia, the Americas, and Africa.

In each of the countries, he will embark on a 100-kilometer walk to persuade organizations to adopt the model.

Nguyen Quang Thach (wearing glasses) and Indian students pose for a photo next to a bookshelf in India. Photo: Supplied

Since 2011, Thach has appealed to Vietnamese people to contribute VND20,000 (US$0.8) each per month to the ‘Sach Hoa Nong Thon’ program.

Upon learning that Vietnamese rural teachers played a pivotal role in facilitating their access to books, Indian students and teachers expressed their joy and gratitude.

Motivated by the generosity of Vietnamese students who shared books with them, Indian students have taken the initiative to encourage their parents to contribute 150 rupees ($1.8) each for the purchase of books.

This collaborative effort has resulted in the sharing of books among classmates and schoolmates, fostering a spirit of community and knowledge exchange.

Many Indian teachers have also contributed 1,000 rupees ($12.1) each to develop Classroom Libraries.

The contributions of Vietnamese people over the past years and the 6,000 kilometers that Thach would travel in India and 30 other countries will serve as a solid foundation for him to appeal to Indians, Filipinos, and people from other nations to invest approximately $1 billion in purchasing 500 million books for 200 million students in eight to ten million classrooms.

According to Santosh Jagtap, chairman of India’s non-governmental organization Swa Eknath nana Jagtap Pratisthan, Thach is practical because he informed teachers and students that Classroom Libraries require contributions from parents, alumni, and teachers.

Jagtap expressed his full support for the idea, recognizing its feasibility and effectiveness.

Thach first visited India in 2019 and returned to the South Asian country in 2020. He aims to establish over eight million Classroom Libraries there.

With the support of Vietnamese people, Thach has established 60 Classroom Libraries in rural areas in India.