The Jakarta Post
Reading fairy tales to your children as a bedtime story, you will help your children develop a reading habit, a crucial early step for their further education.
“The problem in Indonesia – maybe you can argue with me later – is that people don’t read at home,” John McGlynn, chairman of the Jakarta-based Lontar Foundation, an outfit that has translated works by Indonesian writers for global readers, said on Friday at the 2016 ASEAN Literary Festival in Jakarta.
“If parents don’t read to their children, the children are not going to have that head start when they get into school. It doesn’t matter what you read, it could be a newspaper, it could be the bible, it could be the children’s book, but the important thing is to read,” he added.
Without that, it would be hard to develop children’s reading habit, because they would enter schools that generally did not put literature on the curriculum, McGlynn said.
Moreover, the country’s educational system tended to teach the students to memorize things, not to be critical, said Endy Bayuni, editor in chief of The Jakarta Post.
Several other factors contributed to the lack of a reading habit, such as difficult access to reading materials and the lack of appreciation for Indonesian writers.
“The consequences of these very poor reading habits are a lack of critical thinking among our children, a lack of creativity, a lack of innovation, and also poverty. Part of the problem of poverty is ignorance, and ignorance comes from poor education and a very low literacy rate,” Endy said.
A recent study conducted by John Miller, president of Central Connecticut State University in New England, US, ranks Indonesia the second-lowest among 61 countries measured for “literate behavior characteristics”, which includes the number of libraries and newspapers, years of schooling and availability of computers.
Meanwhile, McGlynn said books could be the “glue” connecting people in society and facilitating communication on a daily basis.
“Without literature holding the nation together, they will look for other things. I have nothing against religion, but people, for lack of this national identification, now have begun to rely on religion as the glue that holds them together, whereas that should not be the case. Because religion, as we know, can bind communities, but it can also separate them,” he said. (vps/bbn)