Transcript of MOS Janil’s remarks at Reading Excellence Awards at NLB

Published Date: 20 March 2017 12:00 AM

News Speeches

1. Thank you for inviting me, actually I’m very happy to be here because I am a little bit of a bookworm myself. I have enjoyed reading very much from my school-going days. These days when I travel, one of the first things I have to think about is what reading material I have to carry along. And again, another reason why I am very happy to see the NLB’s e-book app is that now I can have everything on my phone.

2. Reading is not just about a hobby but the ability to read. By reading, it is a milestone in a child’s education where they are happy to pick up a book of their choice, read about a subject they have never been exposed to before and learn how it adds up. And then, the next milestone, where having learnt about what’s in that book, may be the need to go look up other pieces of knowledge that they don’t understand. It could the dictionary, encyclopedia or another book, to become a self-directed learner. It is very, very important journey that you make as an individual.

3. Today, we take it for granted that this is something that should happen, but it was not always so. If we go back to history where literacy levels are not so high, where the ability to read for pleasure was not something that everybody had. It was a real transformation in our society, and this can be understood as being the normal thing that every school kid should be able to do.

4. The literacy level tends to rise and people need to take ownership of their own reading. Because this is the gateway bank to the entire universe of knowledge, where you are able to access knowledge and learn things by yourself. It is the most powerful tool to transform someone’s personal learning, something that will stay with you for the rest of your life.

5. So, getting it right in schools is the key task that our teachers and principals do for the child’s development and education, and reinforcing its importance as that child grows up and learns how to learn for themselves.

6. But this is also community effort – today we bring together partners from MOE, the schools and NLB, and it is important that it doesn’t stop there; this goes out to families, friends, peers, into our community. And you, students, children, and reading ambassadors, can play a big role in bringing your community into this effort.

7. Because if the effort stops when you leave school, our job is not even half done, we really have not succeeded. Our job will be successful when the impact of reading continues for the rest of your life, where you see this ability to learn become something that stays with you as you grow and you are able to influence others. So if this stops at the gates of the school, then our job is not anywhere near even half done. But if this is something you take with you out into your family, friends, community and it stays with you as you grow up, then our job is more than completely done because we have given you the tools to learn by yourself and to transform the society around.

8. The innovation that teachers and faculties in our schools bring, to strive to find new ways of encouraging learning and reading, is quite fascinating. I am glad that we are celebrating so much diversity of effort today in our awards because the nature of knowledge and what we read has changed. People will complain about e-books, surfing online, Facebook, as compared to reading chapters from traditional paper books. I’m not so worried, because the main thing we do when we go online is read, and most of the information is there.

9. So as long as you are reading for yourself, I don’t think it’s such a bad thing. But I’m glad that so many different innovative approaches have been tried by schools and teachers, because there will be many different ways to engage the knowledge that’s available. So I’m glad that we are celebrating that engagement and the diversity today in our reading excellence awards.

10. To all our students and teachers, and people from MOE and NLB who have come together today, congratulations on a very important effort both from schools and from the community, and to the award recipients, congratulations on all your hard work and your success, and thank you all very much for coming here today this afternoon to join us.

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