By Bushra Hassan.
Reading is considered a very important skill for success in life as it promotes understanding and keeps one’s mind active, creative and growing. Reading habit creates a lifelong impact on a person and a person who has reading habit is said to be more intellectual and optimist. But, here we are in the 21st era where life is moving fast. It is because of this reason that today we are so much engaged in our materialistic lives that reading habits and practices of reading have declined a lot. Today people got engaged in their social and professional lives that they rarely find time to read.
Due to a number of reasons reading habits in Pakistan have declined. At the same time with the progress and development in technologies, particularly due to the shift from print media to electronic media, people got more inclined towards electronic gadgets rather than finding and managing time to read books and magazines. Excessive use of internet has also played a key role in this decline and has taken over books, newspapers and magazines. Social networking, availability of everything on internet related to daily life routine matters and social media have ultimately summed up our whole lives within a single electronic gadget due to which we rarely bother going towards reading.
Apart from that, it is quite very unfortunate that today majority of schools, colleges and universities in Pakistan also do not focus on encouraging their students to read. Students, particularly from professional colleges, perform all their academic activities based upon internet and laptops. In schools and colleges, teachers simply also do not realize the necessity of improving reading skills and habits of their students, due to which students lack the interest of reading. Teachers must ensure effective means through which the reading habits of their students can be processed and can be improved.
Just like teachers, parents also play a major contributing role in lacking the interest of reading amongst today’s generation. Lack of parents’ concern towards the studying habits of their children proves out to be a major dilemma. Nowadays, parents are so much busy in their lives that they do not find enough time to concentrate on what their child is studying in school. Focusing further on child’s reading habits is a matter of later debate. Therefore, the lack of encouragement from parents, children at present do not realize the significance of reading and are rarely found motivated to read.
In most of the underdeveloped areas and villages in our country, the overall infrastructure of education and reading is in a critical state. Due to illiteracy factor, majority of people do not even know how to read and thus do not bother to send their children to schools. Yet there are some underprivileged people who know the significance of reading and understand the importance of sending their children to schools for education. Government must ensure proper funding schemes for the government schools atleast and inspiration should be given to both parents and children so that children could come towards education and reading.
In order to improve reading habits amongst children particularly, motivation from parents and teachers is very necessary. Like it said that the charity begins at home, similarly, it is very important for parents specially to provide their children with reading books so that they could have a proper sense of reading which would definitely help them in their future lives. Parents also need to motivate their children to go to libraries to develop reading habits and enhance their reading skills.
Keeping in view the overall decline of reading habits in Pakistan, public libraries in Pakistan should also have free access to everyone and they should be open to all so that more and more people could be lured towards libraries. Public libraries for sure provide students and people with great opportunities of learning. But because of the serious environment, people specially young children avoid going to libraries. In accordance to that, if our restaurants and several fast food joints initiate providing a corner for books and magazines, then people would surely enjoy reading books over a cup of coffee.
Reading habits in children, students and people can also be promoted with the integration of ICT Tools. In today’s times, electronic-devices have become a very powerful weapon to encourage people to read. Smart Phones, I-Pads and other e-devices can be effectively used to download books, novels and other reading material. Children can also be encouraged to read through the electronic games that include the activity of reading. These kinds of games will surely enhance and polish the reading skills of children. Modern technologies like Tablets and Smart phones can attract children to read as touch screens provide children with an enjoyable experience where they can zoom in and zoom out pictures within the text.
Pakistan is a Muslim state and the first verse of Holy Quran says “IQRA” meaning “To Read” and thus, the importance of reading cannot be denied. As they say, “Reading is Power” and to unleash this power today, it is highly necessary that we incorporate all the valuable ICT devices that we have in reading to encourage people in Pakistan to read. If we really want to increase the academic’s capacity of the people of Pakistan, it is very important that we bring our people towards reading. Government also needs to take responsibility to ensure basic facilities for people so that they can develop the reading habits.
The writer is a Research Analyst and holds a strong command over Entertainment Industry.
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