BC clubs give books to Africa

Katherine J. White
December 5, 2007
Filed under News

Bakersfield College students may not be heading for Africa on Christmas break, but their old textbooks can go there.
Instead of selling or discarding unneeded textbooks, BC students can donate their textbooks to BC’s Pre-Med club, or to either BC’s Engineering Club or HOPES club. These clubs will send the donated books to the Better World Books organization, which will then ship the materials to three or four different African countries, according to Emnet Habebo, 18, BC biology major and member of the Pre-Med Club.
The preferred target age group is college-age, but Pre-Med would also like books to get to lower-division students, said Habebo. The BC clubs chose to work with Better World Books although there are other non-profit literacy organizations the club could have chosen to work with who collect educational materials for impoverished areas of the world, according to Habebo.
Books for Africa and Room to Read are other similar organizations who will take old texts, said Habebo. Worldfund is another similar organization, which sends materials to Latin America. Another organization, National Center for Family Literacy, raises awareness for the need for increased literacy in the United States.
Habebo said Pre-Med wants to make these donations at the end of every semester for as long as possible. Habebo would like the idea of sending educational materials to underdeveloped areas to spread throughout Bakersfield.
“I want to duplicate this idea over at Cal State Bakersfield,” Habebo said. “No where else in Bakersfield is this drive being done; it’s only being done at BC.”
Next year, Pre-Med and the other clubs will work in conjunction with an organization to send textbooks to parts of Asia.
Habebo said that the clubs will also accept some novels with high educational potential as well as textbooks. BC biology professor Joe Saldivar, adviser for Pre-Med, said all academic subjects will be accepted including texts for psychology, communication, theater, sociology, and literature as well as texts for science and math.
Boxes students can place texts in will be in place in or near the BC bookstore, the tutoring center, the Grace Van Dyke Bird Library as well as SE 46 and the financial aid office, said Habebo.
Habebo said she met a representative of Better World Books at a September conference in Sacramento that the Pre-Med Club attended who encouraged the club to join in the quest to accommodate needy students in Africa.
According to statistics provided by www.whitehouse.gov and www.portal.unesco.org, 42 million sub-Saharan African children do not attend school chiefly because they cannot afford the expense of going to school; schooling is often a luxury more easily afforded for the children of the more affluent in countries such as Africa. According to www.usaid.gov and www.unicef.org, 24 million Sub-Saharan African girls did not attend school in 2002, and www.idrc.ca reports that 40 percent of Africans over 15 are illiterate, and 50 percent of African women over 25 are illiterate.
Tuan Nguyen, 21, BC biology student interested in dentistry and a Pre-Med member, believes the U.S. has an obligation to assist disadvantaged countries like Africa.
“Many people in Africa have no educational support,” Nguyen said.
Saldivar agreed that educational aid to many parts of the world is a moral obligation for the more advantaged countries like the U.S., which takes its educational opportunities for granted.
“We don’t have an appreciation for the advantages in the U.S.,” said Saldivar, “Over there, pen and paper are huge commodities,” he said.

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