THIMPU, BHUTAN, Nov. 5, 2008 – In the kingdom of Bhutan, apart from the capital city of Thimphu, there are no public libraries in any of the cities, towns or villages. The enjoyment of reading is an exception and not the rule for the communities of this small landlocked nation located at the southern end of the Himilayas.
This is about to change with the historic signing of the agreement between READ Global and the Royal Education Council of Bhutan. As one of the first international non‐governmental organizations to work with the government of Bhutan, READ Global has agreed to create twelve Community Library Resource Centers (CLRC) and the for‐profit projects to sustain them in rural communities throughout Bhutan. By empowering the local communities through the availability of much needed resources and training the people to sustain their own efforts, READ Global is able to encourage cooperation which upholds local traditions and improves the area economy.
The agreement between READ Global and Bhutan supports a variety of activities which aim to assist rural communities in their efforts to gain access to information and education resources. READ Global and the Royal Education Council are committed in their efforts to reduce illiteracy and poverty in Bhutan and will work closely together in the best interest of the needs of the people and communities a CLRC is located.
READ Global founder and chairperson, Dr. Antonia Neubauer, participated in the signing ceremony in Thimphu and said, "Fifty three percent of Bhutanese people are illiterate and 96 per cent of Bhutan's poor people live in rural areas. Providing access to information and economic opportunities through READ libraries will inspire prosperity and improve the lives of thousands of rural Bhutanese villagers."
READ Global is a 501(c)3 launched in 1991 with a mission to empower rural communities using a replicable model for sustainable educational, economic and community development that pairs non‐profit libraries with for‐profit ventures. To date, READ Global has helped rural communities in Nepal and India create and support almost 50 community library resource centers.
The majority of funding for READ Global activities in Bhutan is made available by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which has provided a matching grant to READ Global to replicate the model it has created in Nepal and India. If successful in meeting the challenge grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, READ Global will expand its operations into three additional countries by the end of 2010. The deadline for this match is December 1, 2008.
The Royal Education Council of Bhutan is responsible for initiating and implementing reforms in Bhutan’s education section. Established in August, 2007, The Council is an autonomous organization that has been mandated to initiate and implement appropriate reforms across the entire spectrum of education.
For more information, please contact READ Global at 415-563-3362 or visit the website at www.readglobal.org.