Sunday, November 25, 2007

Do Pinoys Read at all? An NBDB survey

Do Pinoys read at all?

By Queena Lee-Chua

Posted date: November 25, 2007

MANILA, Philippines - What is the most popular book read (outside of school) by Filipinos? No, it is not Harry Potter, but the Bible. According to the 2007 National Book Development Board (NBDB) Readership Survey, 67 percent of respondents across the country read the Bible the most, followed by romance or love novels (33 percent), cookbooks (28 percent), comic books (26 percent) and religious or inspirational works (20 percent).

Other relatively popular book categories in 2007 are, in this order: humor, science (to my delight), horror and suspense, family planning, business, sports and fitness, health and medicine, government, laws, agriculture, lifestyle, heroes, animals, child rearing, social issues, and horoscopes.

Early this year, the NBDB commissioned the Social Weather Stations to do a second Readership Survey (the first was done in 2003). There were 1,200 respondents: 300 each from the NCR, Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao. Respondents answered detailed questions about their reading habits, preferences, attitudes and behavior. (I am a governing board member of the NBDB.)

Decline in reading

First, the bad news. Generally, the survey shows that reading has slightly declined in our nation. Only 92 percent of respondents say they read, down two percent from 2003. The reading of books, comics, newspapers, and magazines has gone down, by seven, 13, 14, and 15 percent, respectively.

Why the decline? One culprit is the National Capital Region (NCR). Surprisingly, the NCR is the only cluster in the country where reading has decreased, by five percent. In Luzon areas outside NCR, readership has actually increased by two percent, and in Mindanao, readers have held steady.

Despite the proliferation of bookstores, publishers, and libraries in the NCR, book readers have decreased by a whopping 31 percent, from 95 percent in 2003 to 64 percent in 2007. Magazine readers in the NCR have decreased by 27 percent, comics readers by 12 percent, and newspaper readers by 10 percent.

But there is good news elsewhere. In the Visayas, general readership has increased by four percent. Readers of books in the Visayas increased by 11 percent; comics readers, by 10 percent; magazine readers, by one percent. (Newspaper readers have decreased by four percent.)

It is interesting to note that NBDB has done a lot of intervention programs in the Visayas, such as the Booklatan community reading activities, which may possibly have accounted in part for the increase.

Kudos to the youth

The youth are leading the way. They start to read non-school books at age 16, on average, one year earlier than in 2003. Again, NCR is the poor exception—young people here start reading non-school books at age 18 on average, two years later than the national norm.

Unfortunately, reading has declined across all age groups, except again for the youth, those in the 18 to 24 age bracket, where the percentage of readers has in fact gone up. Does this mean that we read less as we grow older? I hope not.

Reading has also declined across all socioeconomic groups, except those in the AB class. Public school students now read fewer books, newspapers, magazines, and comics than they did in 2003, and as for private school respondents, the slight increase in reading today is only among those reading comics.

Ninety-six percent of urban respondents read, compared to 88 percent in the rural areas. This may be explained by the lack of access to reading materials in areas far from city centers.

Reading behavior

Pinoys read anytime they want. Evidently, reading non-school books is not a habit for most people, except for some who read before going to sleep. The number of books read in the past year is seven on the average.

An average of seven books a year is not too bad, but what is alarming is the median number of books read, which is a low three. This means that even if half the adult population of the Philippines have read three or more non-school books in the past year, the other half have read only at most three, or worse, no books at all.

Why do we read? More than 85 percent of the respondents read to gain knowledge or more information. The rest read for enjoyment. Almost half of the readers read books by Filipino authors only, while the other half read both local and foreign books.

However, the majority of the respondents, whether they read or not, have few books at home. (More than forty percent have at most only five books in their homes.)

Why? Perhaps more readers prefer to read media other than print, such as the Net. Perhaps others turn to other types of entertainment, such as TV. Perhaps the cost of books has become prohibitive for most of us.

The survey does not analyze the reasons why, but the research team offers some recommendations. “The challenge is for booksellers and publishers, printers and paper and ink manufacturers, to make more books affordable. The government can facilitate this, as well as the financing of technology upgrades to make operations more efficient and economical.”

“Authors are also challenged to write more books, not just to entertain, but also to inform, to teach the readers skills or to convey to them practical knowledge. Community libraries [should encourage] adults and out-of-school youth to like to read books; and educators, to teach students to read longer materials, such as books.”

The NBDB will present the 2007 Readership Survey results to the public on Nov. 28, 9 a.m. to 12 noon, at the Discovery Suites in Ortigas Center, Pasig City. Publishers, reading associations, educators, and other stakeholders are encouraged to attend. For more details, call the NBDB at 9209853.

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Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Story telling and reading

From Philippine Daily Inquirer Nov. 4, 2007 issue:

Storytellers reach, touch hearts of kids
By Ma. Cecilia Rodriguez
Last updated 10:48pm (Mla time) 11/03/2007

WHEN THE PERFORMANCE of more than 2,000 pupils of the South City Central School in Cagayan de Oro City was evaluated last year, at least 10 out of 50 pupils in Grades 1 to 3 did not know how to read or understand what they read.

This dismally low literacy rate merely reflects the state of education in Mindanao.

According to the National Statistics Office (NSO), regions in Mindanao ranked lowest in functional literacy last year, with an average of 70 percent.

Dropout rate shot up to as high as 7.3 percent, another NSO data said.

To help address the problem, Amway Philippines, a global direct-selling company, has adopted the South City Central School for its “One by One Campaign for Children,” a project aimed at improving the reading ability of children in public schools.

Amway helped renovate the school library, where a well-lit and inviting storytelling corner was put up.

After months of waiting, the refurbished library formally opened on Oct. 19, to the delight of eager children, parents and teachers.

“A library is a very important component of the school. This is where children can feed their minds and souls. It is our hope that the newly renovated library and the ‘One by One Campaign for Children’ storytelling corner will encourage more children to go inside the library to develop the love and appreciation for reading and learning,” Ador Bonquin, Amway Philippines country manager, said.

A workshop for teachers and volunteers on innovative ways of telling a story was conducted before the project launch.

Captivating the listener

“We teach our storytellers how to reach and touch the hearts of the children. This way, listeners will be captivated by the story and encourage them to try reading the story by themselves,” Bonquin said.

Storytellers use props and visual aids to enrich the imagination of children, as well as enhance their comprehension.

Rebecca Pacanut, a Grade 1 teacher for the past 31 years, said the attractive appearance of the storytelling corner, as well as the new children’s books, had inspired her pupils to read.

“In my decades of teaching, this is the only time that I saw my pupils hurrying toward the library instead of the playground after classes. They have discovered the joy of reading,” she said.

The library now has 3,000 books, mostly donations from the United States.

“We are still trying to solicit more (reading materials),” librarian Arlene de Guma said.

To inspire the children to read and understand what they read, they allow even nonreaders to take home the materials for three days so that the parents can read along with them, De Guma said.

“We also encourage the parents to volunteer as storytellers,” she said.

Sustaining the project is a challenge both for Amway and for the school beneficiary, according to Bonquin.

“The school’s counterpart is to maintain the library and the storytelling corner. For us, we have promised to adopt the school, hence our local IBOs [independent business owners] will continue supporting its needs,” he said.

Amway will also donate computers and more books to upgrade the library. The company’s employees from around the globe will also donate books to the adopted school.

The literacy campaign is Amway’s global initiative to uplift the lives of children all over the world, Bonquin said.

Similar programs were launched to combat child poverty in Africa, provide crucial care for children fighting cancer in Mexico and Brazil, and help disabled children in Japan.

Last year, Amway Philippines received the Anvil Award of Merit under the institutional and corporate category for its One by One Campaign for Children.

Copyright 2007 Inquirer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Friday, November 2, 2007

After teaching them to read, what happens next?

It is heartwarming to know that the Department of Education (DepEd) is doing concrete steps in encouraging our children to read. Reading is one habit Filipino kids need to develop for their own good and future. Last July, I was among the few adults who reserved and lined up at National Bookstore in Davao City for the release of Harry Potter 7 (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows). The rest were kids and teens accompanied by their parents. It was a wondrous sight.

After teaching them to read, what happens next? What worries me are several factors:

  • Parents' attitudes towards reading. Many of them think that beyond textbooks, they are only obligated to buy their kids dictionaries, nothing more. The most sought-after book by parents in bookstores selling brand-new and used books and even in MV Doulos is dictionaries! Even without the statistics on household expenses, I'm sure, aside from textbooks, other reading materials like magazines and newspapers are l-o-o-o-o-w in the list. The basic needs for food. clothing and shelter would take precedence over reading materials. (Maybe this is why the local komiks industry died.)
  • Sorry state of libraries in public elementary and high schools. Sure there are book donations from Books for the Barrios, civic groups and local/national politicians, but many of these are irrelevant to the academic needs of library users: highly technical books, books on American politics, college textbooks (advance calculus and physics), FVR books, etc. The lack of books and internet connection is one sure killer of curiosity in our kids.
  • Development of critical thinking is not promoted in consonance with reading. One only needs to see the factual errors in Philippine-made textbooks and shudder at the absence of critical thinking in our young pupils and their teachers!
  • Popular culture makes video viewing more attractive than reading. Why read when you can see it indeed! My nieces and nephews' main excuse for not reading: We'd rather wait for it to shown in cinemas and TV.
  • Teachers of non-language subjects (many of them don't even have reading habits) who refuse to go beyond the four corners of the textbooks they're using. They don't even have the initiative to relate their subject matters to current events and other disciplines. No wonder our kids find their textbooks dry and boring!

Growing Older is Mandatory/Growing Up is Optional

Hi! This was shared to me via email:

I liked reading this short article from a friend. I hope you will, too. The first day of school our professor introduced himself and challenged us to get to know someone we didn't already know.

I stood up to look around when a gentle hand touched my shoulder. I turned around to find a wrinkled, little old lady beaming up at me with a smile that lit up her entire being. She said, "Hi handsome. My name is Rose. I'm eighty-seven years old. Can I give you a hug?" I laughed and enthusiastically responded, "Of course you may!" and she gave me a giant squeeze."Why are you in college at such a young, innocent age?" I asked.She jokingly replied, "I'm here to meet a rich husband, get married, and have a couple of kids..."

"No seriously," I asked. I was curious what may have motivated her to be taking on this challenge at her age. "I always dreamed of having a college education! and now I'm getting one!" she told me. After class we walked to the student union building and shared a chocolate milkshake. We became instant friends every day for the next three months we would leave class together and talk nonstop. I was always mesmerized listening to this "time machine" as she shared her wisdom and experience with me. Over the course of the year, Rose became a campus icon and she easily made friends wherever she went. She loved to dress up and she reveled in the attention bestowed upon her from the other students. She was living it up. At the end of the semester we invited Rose to speak at our football banquet. I'll never forget what she taught us. She was introduced and stepped up to the podium. As she began to deliver her prepared speech, she dropped her three by five cards on the floor. Frustrated and a little embarrassed she leaned into the microphone and simply said, "I'm sorry I'm so jittery! I gave up beer for Lent and this whiskey is killing me! ! I'll never get my speech back in order so let me just tell you what I know. "As we laughed she cleared her throat and began,

"We do not stop playing because we are old; we grow old because we stop playing.

There are only four secrets to staying young... being happy, and achieving success. You have to laugh and find humor every day. You've got to have a dream. When you lose your dreams, you die.We have so many people walking around who are dead and don't even know it!

There is a huge difference between growing older and growing up.If you are nineteen years old and lie in bed for one full year and don't do one productive thing, you will turn twenty years old. If I am eighty-seven years old and stay in bed for a year and never do anything I will turn eighty-eight. Anybody can grow older. That doesn't take any talent or ability. The idea is to grow up by always finding opportunity in change.

Have no regrets. The elderly usually don't have regrets for what we did, but rather for things we did not do. The only people who fear death are those with regrets."

She concluded her speech by courageously singing "The Rose." She challenged each of us to study the lyrics and live them out in our daily lives. At the year's end Rose finished the college degree she had begun all those years ago. One week after graduation Rose died peacefully in her sleep. Over two thousand college students attended her funeral in tribute to the wonderful woman who taught by example that it's never too late to be all you can possibly be. When you finish reading this, please send this peaceful word of advice to your friends and family, they'll really enjoy it! These words have been passed along in loving memory of ROSE.

REMEMBER, GROWING OLDER IS MANDATORY.GROWING UP IS OPTIONAL. We make a Living by what we get, We make a Life by what we give. God promises a safe landing, not a calm passage. If God brings you to it. He will bring you through it. Pass this message to people you care about. If you choose not, then you refuse to bless someone else……