Karim Mohammad Khan
“To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life.” — W. Somerset Maugham
Review of different studies uncover that reading good books creates awareness, broaden mental horizon, increases knowledge, improves communication skills both oral and written and develops problem solving, creative and critical thinking skills. Unfortunately, reading trend has declined sharply in our country as evident from the low frequency of visits to public and private libraries by all walks of life.
It has been observed that as soon as qualification is improved, degrees are attained and certain specific targets are achieved, reading comes to an end and very few keeps up this vital skill to get insights and enhance skills, but a large number of professionals, politicians, teachers, students and alumni hardly spare time to flip through the pages of books and other textual materials.
In developed countries like USA, Canada, UK, Japan and some other Western European countries politicians and civil servants are not only fond of reading but also carry out research work, write articles and publish books and maintain personal libraries to get more insights in order to perform well and excel in their fields and demonstrate good governance at large.
In contrast, most of our political leadership as they are law and policy makers too lacking reading habit but even some have pursued fake certificates and degrees to be shown themselves as educated in order to contest elections as many such cases have been already surfaced and reported several times in media. The effect and performance of such phony leadership is manifested in the form of bad governance, institutional inefficiency and low productivity or at times institutional collapse.
Next, a large number of children in schools and colleges are also deviating from reading culture due to multiple factors such as spending too much time on social media, cell phone, internet and TV. When completing their studies most of them lack mental sharpness and proficiency in communication skills, scarcity of critical and analytical aptitude and dearth in positive attitude that causes hardship for them to go for job hunting and in practical field as well.
Moreover, one of the contributing elements in lacking reading trend in children is also linked with their ineffective approach of schooling as their teachers are also reluctant in cultivating extensive and intensive reading habit and at times they go to class without reading materials from textbook that they are supposed to deliver. Hence, facts, concepts, theories and terminologies remain vague for the children to understand, apply, analyze and evaluate and these steps are vital to develop higher order thinking skills.
In addition, the requirements of classroom dynamics and practices have been changing from teacher centric to student-centric. In most of the public sector schools medium of instruction has been converted into English and understanding of curriculum, instruction, assessment and effective classroom management and enhancing students’ learning outcomes are also direly required extensive reading of relevant books on the part of teachers.
To pursue reading habit, certain steps need to be taken for school children and adults. In school at primary level basic reading skills of children such letters, its shapes, sounds and comprehending of sentence structures need to be developed and practiced a lot at early ages. Further, to enrich curriculum some interesting allied reading materials should be suggested and libraries should have such relevant, interesting text materials that attract the interest of children and specific period has to be allocated in school timetable on daily basis to accommodate each class. Parents should also be taken into account in developing reading habit at home and those who read more should be appreciated and rewarded.
For the adult, public and private libraries have to be renovated and equipped with all sorts of modern facilities having books, periodical, newspapers, journals, magazines and internet service to pursue digital reading materials with cozy seating arrangements and conducive learning environment for men and women. And policies and procedures to attend libraries at least once in a week should be mandatory for politicians, teachers and other professionals to get insights, improve skills and enhance institutional efficiency and effectiveness with other benefits entailed.
Succinctly, to keep the multiple benefits of reading habit in view, it is essential to cultivate reading culture among all walks of life such as politicians, professionals, teachers, students and even common literate people. To facilitate them in this regard government and NGOs should work together to establish new public and private Libraries, renovate the existing ones and equipped them fully with modern facilities and reading materials. Finally, policies and procedures should also be formulated in a way that attending libraries need to be mandatory in every department and institution and reading culture should be encouraged and rewarded.