Paulina Quintao – The Mobile Library Program being implemented in the country through the Alola Foundation is aiming to develop a culture of reading among pupils.
Alola's Program Manager for Education Emma de Sousa said many pupils were participating in the program and enjoyed reading the different books.
"The pupils enjoy reading the books, that's why when we are about to leave, they tell us to visit their school again," she said at her office in Mascarenhas, Dili.
The Mobile Library Program was launched in 2012 with the purpose of promoting the importance of reading to enhance general knowledge.
De Sousa said it was essential to remind teachers about the importance of reading as schools often kept books in the cupboard instead of distributing them to students.
The books in the mobile library collection are produced by the Alola Foundation and are written using simple language so that it is easy for students to understand. The books also have pictures to encourage students to read.
Data shows that about 14,196 pupils from Ermera, Lautem, Manufahi, Viqueque, Oecusse and Dili have benefited so far from the Mobile Library Program.
This year Alola has partnered with Childfund to run the program in Bobonaro and Liquisa. The program is also supported by Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).
Former First Lady and founder of the Xanana Reading Room Kristy Sword Gusmao said reading was something new in Timorese culture and therefore students often needed encouragement.
"I built the Xanana Reading Room as a small public library for youth to study and to create a culture of reading, which is something new to Timor," she said.
Sword Gusmao congratulated Alola on bringing the library to students in rural areas where it was often difficult to access books.
"I hope libraries are opened around the community and in every school in the future so that the Mobile Library Program doesn't have to run [anymore]," Gusmao said.