By Taj Nabi Khan
ISLAMABAD, Jul 3 (APP):Reading of productive books is considered building blocks for character, society, and nation at large. It is a window to the world of knowledge: economy, politics, history, literature, culture, and what not. The culture of reading is crucial for independent knowledge acquisition and lifelong learning; And, the more one reads ,the more he/she will be to do creative writing as reading is the key source of vocabulary enhancement.
Moreover, an enhanced vocabulary is the basic requirement for a good piece of writing.
Reading builds the essential attributes for self-advancement and national development. But it seems now as if we are living in an age of browsing internet, playing with cell phones etc. — reading a book in a peaceful corner of a library has turned to become an old-fashioned idea.
It was not long ago when book reading culture was a visible landmark of the educated lot — books were considered the source of knowledge for developing verbal abilities, improving concentration, enhancing imagination and a good pastime. However, over the years, in Pakistani society, reading habits are gradually fading away, particularly among the youth.
The book reading culture is diminishing day by day and now it seems, in Pakistani society, reading habits are non prevalent.
Adding fuel to the fire, it was more astonishing to go through the results of a recent survey conducted by the Gallup and Gillani Foundation Pakistan according to which 75% of the students in Pakistan are not reading any book — showing sad yet real side of the problem that 3 out 4 students in the country never read a book at all except probably the university course books and that too only for passing the exam.
A number of reasons could be held responsible for declining of book reading culture amongst the youth and topping the all was found the internet technology. It has affected reading habits more than anything else among school, college and university students.
No doubt, technology has helped developed society in different ways, but at the same time, it is robbing away the true charm of life that we were grown up with — sinking and swimming in the world of reading books. The reading habit if not encouraged would be left just a habit talked about and followed by old generation. It is said that for sustaining a strong reading culture among the school-going-kids, misuse of internet technology should be banned.
Talking to APP, Executive Director, Iqbal Institute of Research and Dialogue, International Islamic University, Islamabad (IIUI), Professor Dr. Husnul Amin said, “Recently, a student under my supervision has found in her research thesis that the enrolled-students of Islamabad-based universities are using social media (facebook, twitter, whatsapp, instagram etc.) for about 6-9 hours (74%) on daily basis. He said that productive time was being wasted on social media, adding that students often preferred to go for quick-reading, reading-in-bullets and images etc. for avoiding the original text(s). “The vicious academic cycle are needed to be changed for introducing some incentives for reading books — promotion of teachers and marks for students etc”, he added.
Professor Dr. Kamal Khan, Department of English and Applied Linguistics, Allama Iqbal Open University said, “During early nineties, there were lots of public libraries and books shops in Lahore with low-cost-books when I was student there.” He said that now the trend has changed as reading habit was declined due to social and electronic media while no book shop was left in that locality.
Dr. Kamal said , “Now students either go for spoon, surface, or cursory reading and that too on social media obsessed with the idea of ‘quick-to-share’ the stuff online.
He said that collaborative efforts on public-private partnership were needed for libraries and reading related projects for reviving and promoting book reading culture.
Director Academics, IIUI, Professor Dr. Tahir Khalily said that for promoting reading culture, it was imperative to motivate students and teachers for study-circles, writing book-reviews, reading-play and analytical-reading. He said that students should be encouraged to utilize their time in reading while travelling in bus or train.
Saad Ahmad Khan, a college student from Islamabad said, “Books does not seem attracting people anymore as they used to due to modern innovations of electronic gadgets; nowadays, students prefer to watch than to read due to the fact that watching does not need that much effort in understanding.
Waqar Ahmad Swati, a university student and avid reader who frequently visits libraries to read books said, “It is not easy to read from the screen even if it is a short story but one can read book for hours without much strain on one’s eyes.” He said that book reading habit instills the spirit of tolerance among the readers for respecting the opposite views.