Schools maintain logbook to keep tab every month on number of books students read

Education: If it turns out as planned, students across the country would have read at least a few thousands books by the end of this year.

This reading mission of the education ministry began soon after His Majesty The King launched the National Reading Year, 2015 in December last year.

Following the launch, all schools have started maintaining a reading logbook to record the number of books each student reads in a month.  Students are to read at least one book a month, apart from their academic texts.

During the State of the Nation Report on June 19, 2014, Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay said that developing a national reading strategy to inculcate a healthy reading habit would be one of the educational initiatives the government would pursue.

The National Reading Year is dedicated to His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, as part of his 60th birth anniversary celebrations.

Apart from the regular library periods, Wangbama central school in Genekha, Thimphu has created a separate reading room.  Principal Sonam Drukpa said each class takes turn to use the room every week.  Articles, quotes and other reading materials are displayed on the walls for students to read.

Buddy reading: Students in Mongar start their day reading news to each other to observe the National Reading Year

“It’s not just students, who are encouraged to read, but teachers as well,” he said.

The school has also initiated a reading hour, where, every Sunday morning, students spend an hour reading.

Similarly, schools in Tashiyangtse, in its recent principals’ meeting, decided to include reading as one of the components in the annual performance agreement.

“Every school has initiated reading programmes,” dzongkhag education officer Kinzang Dhendup said.

For example, Bjemina PS begins its day by playing the signature tune the education ministry produced for the National Reading Year.  For the last four years, the school had been following a “my passion” programme, where students keep a record of books they read in a year.

Principal Ugyen Jimba said, at the end of the year, students, who have read the highest number of books, are given appreciation prizes. “We had students reading up to 38 books in a year,” he said.  Students are encouraged to read both Dzongkha and English books.

Early this year, Changzamtok LSS also invited a Bhutanese author to read one of her books to the students.

For others in the community and non-formal education centers, reading materials have been made available and centres opened away from the school.

Since 2003, a total of 22 community-learning centres have been set up across the country.  However, most have remained idle until now because there was no one to look after it.

Senior programme officer with the Non-Formal and Continuing Education Division, Tshering Tobgay, said the labour ministry was consulted recently to recruit instructors for these centres. “The centres have useful materials like library books and tailoring equipment,” he said.

In a consultative stakeholder meeting yesterday, the education ministry discussed some activities to make the National Reading Year vibrant and successful.

Creating awareness, sensitising the media, training school librarians and creating a network with Vanche Gujarat, which has made reading good books a cultural practice in the state, were some of the points discussed.

Education secretary, Sangay Zam, said, although the ministry was the ultimate custodian of the National Reading Year programme, every Bhutanese should contribute in fulfilling the national aspiration of promoting the country as a knowledge-based society.

“Initiating different activities alone is not enough,” the secretary said. “At least in schools, we need to assess the reading year’s impact.”

By Nirmala Pokhrel


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