Ramallah taxi campaign to encourage bookworms

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Residents of the Palestinian Territories may have one of the highest literacy rates in the world, but one group thinks Palestinians are just not reading enough.

Bastet Ibda’a’ - or vendors of creativity - have set up a new campaign in the West Bank to encourage taxi passengers to read while they travel.

“The idea of the initiative is that there will be five-ten books inside the taxis that drive between the main cities. The passengers can make use of them while going from one city to another. We have also focused on getting different kinds of books for different age groups as children and adults use these taxis,” said the head of the initiative, Weam Kariuti.

In the first phase of the initiative, books have been put into over 300 vehicles, which carry people between the cities of Ramallah, Nablus, Jenin and Hebron.

In each vehicle, a collection of donated novels and children’s books is left in a small bag strapped over the back of the driver’s seat.

Taxi driver Abdel Basset Hamad said he thought it was a good idea.

“I support this idea, because, when we drive long distances, the passengers need to enjoy it, especially those who have just finished work or are tired, they need something to relax,” he said.

The Palestinian government puts the rate of illiteracy in the Palestinian Territories at just 4.7 percent of the population in 2011, which rates Palestinians as being among the world’s most literate.

Thanks to the new scheme, taxi passengers are now free to help themselves from the mobile library to help them pass the time during their journey.

“The book initiative is excellent. People can read on the way, so they don’t talk to the driver and he will drive more safely. The passengers will enjoy the journey,” said passenger Muhammad Anaeen.

Although the current scheme is now limited to journeys between the West Bank’s major cities, organizers say they hope more donations will help them expand the initiative to include smaller towns and villages.

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