Instilling the culture of Reading in schools
As a form five student studying at a local school, I must
admit that we have a long way to go to making Malaysia a reading nation. At
schools, I have found that most students only focus on studying and preparing
for important examinations. Their reading is limited to schools books and hence,
they possess restricted knowledge.
Although the ministry of education had introduced the English literature
component at the secondary level, the standard of English leaves much to be
desired. I personally feel the prescribed novels and short stories are
inadequate to increase the standard of English among students. Thus, I propose
that schools allocate more time for reading English books, especially
non-academic books such as novels and short stories which have literary values
and merits. Books that can enhance one's general knowledge are plenty and should
be suggested as part of a regular reading campaign.
The reading culture must be instilled at a young age. Admittedly some students
speak and write well in English largely due to their parents encouragement who
are either highly educated or encourage their children to read widely and
extensively. A large number of students are not that lucky and those who come
from poor background do not have the advantage of reading and improving their
language skills. Thus, schools play a very important role in encouraging the
reading habit among students. Merely emphasizing on reading is not enough.
Schools must set the trend.
At least two free periods must be allocated for reading. Each classroom should
be well stocked with books and students instructed to read at least three books
in a week. An English language teacher or the existing English teacher should be
appointed to discuss the books that students have read. The discussions can
centre on the literary merits of the books as well as literary criticisms.
Hence, in this way students are taught critical thinking skills and nurture the
ability to think and discuss openly about a variety of issues. The school
library should also be well stocked. Currently, school libraries mostly stock
academic books. Very few acclaimed works of fictions by great writers such as VS
Naipaul, Salman Rushdie, Timothy Mo and even classical writers such as Mark
Twain, Charles Dickens, RL Stevenson, John Steinback, Vladimir Nabakov and local
writers are stocked.
Students should also be given assignments related to the books they have been
assigned to read, and not merely confined to the prescribed novels in the
examinations. In this way, they would strengthen their writing skills and would
not feel intimidated when they enter university and having to research books
mainly written and available in English.
It is my believe that if the above
suggestions are taken seriously and incorporated by the schools as part of the
curriculum or even extra curriculum, the low esteem that overwhelming number of
students feel regarding their English language ability will be a thing of the
past. in fact, students themselves would eventually develop an interest in the
language and would try their best to improve themselves without the prompting of
school authorities and their teachers.