Kids Encouraged to Read Ahead of National Reading Day

A drive has been launched to encourage more kids to read at home to mark National Reading Day, with a program of events in the pipeline
Children at a recent book fair in Phnom Penh. Kiripost/Iea Sonita
Children at a recent book fair in Phnom Penh. Kiripost/Iea Sonita

Minister of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS) Hang Chuon Naron on Monday urged parents to bring their kids to participate in reading events, read more at home rather than playing games as the National Reading Day approaches.

Speaking at a press conference at the Ministry, Naron said that while digital reading has been significantly on the rise, the eighth National Reading Day on March 11 will be​ under the theme of “reading is the way to revolutionize education”.

The Minister added that National Reading Day aims to commemorate the heroism of Chuon Nath, the former Supreme Patriarch, also the well-known author of the Khmer Dictionary and many other Khmer literacy books for the next generation to learn, especially to encourage more reading culture in the country.

March 11 is also the birthday of Nath, who has dedicated almost his entire life to creating the Khmer dictionary. The Ministry has dedicated this date to celebrate National Reading Day in Cambodia annually since 2015.

“We aim to promote reading habits and boost the reading culture, especially among Cambodian youths, as well as strengthen the reading, composing and researching skills focusing on promoting and protecting the Khmer civilization and also expanding the knowledge of citizens,” Naron said.

From March 8 to 10, there will be a national competition in reading, essay, poetry, composition and interpretation of Human Values ​​in the Digital Age Era. On March 10, there will be a workshop on School Library Development. From March 10 to 12, there will be a Book Launch and Exhibition event​​ consisting of 110 book booths, from 87 institutions at the Institute of Technology of Cambodia, Naron said.

“This event will be open widely for the public to join in by reading and purchasing books happily. Therefore, I would like to call all the public to bring their grandchildren and children to participate in this book exhibition,” he added.

Raising kids' habits to participate in the book exhibition programs and bringing them to the libraries during childhood and​ adolescence will help to inspire them to have more interest in reading books, Naron stated.

The adult literacy rate of 15- to 65-years-old increased to approximately 90 percent, according to Naron.

Minister of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS) Hang Chuon Naron speaks during a press conference, March 6, 2023. Kiripost/Meas Molika
Minister of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS) Hang Chuon Naron speaks during a press conference, March 6, 2023. Kiripost/Meas Molika

Concern over the false digital text

Nowadays, digital reading through smart phones is increasing and replacing traditional reading of real books. However, it consists of pros and cons for readers, he said, adding that the Ministry is worried about the effect of inaccurate words that have been written and posted on social media platforms and new words, including slang, have been generated by the latest generation, which does not have formal translations or specific written styles that follow the Khmer literacy grammar rule. He added that these will confuse learners and readers in using the Khmer language properly.

“Reading books from a smartphone has two side effects. Firstly, it also promotes reading and another influence, reading on social media is different from reading books. However, books have the spelling control committee to double check the accuracy of literacy inside the books.

“In contrast, on social media [texts] don't have [the spelling double check committee]. Secondly, among youths, they have created new words for using social media in their own words that do not have specific grammatical rules,” he mentioned.

Therefore, he said the Ministry decided to set the Initial Reading class for kindergarten classes, starting from Grade 1 to Grade 3 and motivate schools to create a reading competition program, also bringing students to read books once a week to improve their reading skills and habits.

“We would like to encourage parents to motivate their children’s reading habits from home since they stay at school for about four hours a day and the rest of the day approximately 20 hours are at home.

“Please let them read more and give reward to your children after reading the book to get the meaning by doing book reflection,” Naron stated.