Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Gov’t to encourage reading

Gov’t to encourage reading

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Students study at the National Library in Phnom Penh yesterday afternoon. A new sub-decree signed by Hun Sen earlier this month will see an annual day of reading start next year in March. Hong Menea

Gov’t to encourage reading

Cambodia will celebrate an annual day of reading from March 11 in an effort to promote the habit nationally, according to a sub-decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday.

The decree calls on ministries, education institutes, local authorities, NGOs and the private sector to join in encouraging all citizens to embrace a love of reading and “the culture of the Cambodian people”.

Although literacy rates in the country are on the increase – UNESCO estimates almost 78 per cent among adults – popular reading habits continue to lag. According to a 2014 study by the literacy NGO Room to Read, Cambodians consume an average of just 1.5 books per year.

Khlot Vibolla, director of the National Library, confirmed that the number of students coming to research and peruse the facility’s collection has almost halved over the past year to around 100-150 per day.

“People in other countries have the habit of reading – when sitting on a plane or bus or whenever they have free time, they’ll always read,” she said. “But for us Cambodians, there is little of this culture.

We must urge our children from age 5 to read for at least 15 minutes each day.”

Book lovers agree that Hun Sen’s initiative is a good stepping stone to cultivating the habit on a popular level.

“We do not read very much as a culture due to past issues around war and immigration,” says Hok Sothik, president of Cambodia’s Librarians and Document Association and head of the local publishing NGO SIPAR.

“We hope that the national day will awaken or renew Cambodians’ desire to read as in other countries.”

However, according to Siv Meng, the author of several romance novels and self-help books (and a regular contributor to the Post’s property section), the new festival needs to be coupled with a boost to education programs as well as to the local industry.

“The Ministry of Education needs to push their reading program in schools harder, encouraging engagement with the world and critical thought,” Meng said, noting that the low quality of contemporary Khmer literature is an obstacle to cultivating a love of reading.

“Often people don’t want to read because the books available in Khmer are no good. Many writers here have become too proud, so they don’t study, read other literature or strive to improve their writing.”

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Support of CNRP return online will lead to arrest’

    Anyone posting messages supporting the return of Sam Rainsy, the “acting president” of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), on social media will be arrested, the Ministry of Interior announced on Tuesday. Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak told The Post on Monday that authorities

  • CNRP activists arrested for ‘plotting insecurity’

    Three activists for the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) have been sent to Phnom Penh Municipal Court after they were arrested for their alleged involvement in an overseas-organised plot to mobilise demonstrations and cause insecurity. National Police spokesman Chhay Kim Khoeun said the

  • Police conduct raid on Orchid massage parlour

    Thirty-seven people, including three minors, were detained after Phnom Penh Municipal Police and the Department of Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection raided the Orchid massage parlour in Sen Sok district’s Phnom Penh Thmey commune on Monday. The 27-room massage parlour is believed to have

  • Rainsy charged with ‘insulting the King’

    Ministries and state institutions have condemned Sam Rainsy, the “acting president” of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), for allegedly insulting His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni. The condemnation came in the wake of Rainsy’s claim on Thursday during an interview with Radio