Thu, 29 May 2003

'I never see youngsters reading'

The Indonesian Publishers Association is currently holding this year's Book Fair, which lasts until Sunday. The association is hopeful that the fair will encourage more people to read, a habit that seems to be severely lacking in Indonesia. Several people spoke with The Jakarta Post about the issue.

Rani, 21, in her final year at Trisakti University in West Jakarta, where she majors in accounting. She lives in Salemba, Central Jakarta, with her family:

I think the poor service and complicated catalog systems at libraries discourage people from reading books. Libraries also don't have many new books and the books people are looking for are sometimes missing from the shelves.

The complicated process of borrowing books is another obstacle to encouraging people to read.

Also, I never see young people here reading books on buses or in public places. Probably because buses and public places are uncomfortable and unsafe, people are reluctant to read books there.

And reading at home isn't easy for young people either. Personally, I find television and radio to be more appealing options.

In addition to these obstacles, the education system here doesn't do anything to encourage reading.

We should refer to Japan, which has becomes an advanced country due in part to its people's reading habits.

Gantoro, 34, is a marketing employee with a company in Radio Dalam, South Jakarta. He lives in Pamulang, Tangerang, with his wife and daughter:

Maybe people don't like reading because reading is boring and unpractical as it wastes a lot of time.

Also, all the new TV stations offering more entertaining programs also have something to do with the poor reading habits here.

Television lets people get information easily without having to waste a lot of time, as is the case with reading books.

Personally, I read books when I was a child because I had to. Now I don't read at all.

In my opinion, reading could lead to introverted personalities and make people uncreative, because readers focus only on books without doing anything else.

Success, I think, is determined not by one's reading habits but rather by chance, experience and self-determination.

It would be useless if people read a lot of books but then did not persistent in real life to become successful.

I don't encourage my child to read for fear she will be introverted and have to wear thick glasses when she grows up.

Astuti, 32, is a teacher at Sekolah Global Jaya in Bintaro, Tangerang. She lives in Pondok Aren, Tangerang, with her husband and two children:

It's sad but I hardly ever see young people in public places carrying books or reading.

Students generally spend their time at arcades, chatting, smoking or playing with their cellular phones, not reading books.

Young people nowadays tend to take for granted instant information from instant sources, like the television, or they just prefer comic books. Instant culture is a very influential factor, in this respect.

The language barrier might also be a factor in the poor reading habits of people here, because usually the interesting books are the imported ones.

Local books have limited appeal to readers, and they are not quite attractive.

Most young people here now lack a sense of curiosity to research different subjects and gain a deeper knowledge of them.

Lots of the parents probably never read and they passed this on to their children by failing to set a good example for their children.

--Leo Wahyudi S