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Students call for wider selection of books

Khmer Times Staff Share:

A quarter of Cambodian students want more access to books and other reading materials, a study by World Vision revealed yesterday.
Of the 4,000 students surveyed by the global NGO, 25 percent said they sought “more amount and variety” of books, while 12 percent wanted “better reading environments” and 10 percent wanted schools to conduct more “reading activities in the library.”
“For many children, the only reading material they have is a textbook, because books are considered a luxury and reading is not something people choose to take time for,” World Vision’s education lead Jill Reimer said.
“There aren’t enough appropriately written Khmer language materials for beginner readers and many families don’t understand the importance of literacy,” Ms. Reimer added.
Ms. Reimer also urged the government, particularly local authorities, to improve efforts to cultivate a culture of reading among students.
“Improving library facilities is one action the government could take to make it easier and more fun for students to learn and practice reading.
We hope that local government authorities take these results seriously and commit to improving the environment for reading,” she said.
“The reading deficit in Cambodia has implications for the future and could ultimately affect the country’s ability to compete in a global economy,” she added.
In conjunction with National Reading Day on Saturday, World Vision conducted various activities in 43 primary schools in nine provinces, aimed at celebrating reading.
The charity said a 2012 assessment revealed only two-thirds of second grade students could read with understanding, while a 2013 survey released by the government found only 45.7 percent of sixth graders were passing the Khmer language.
The principal of Thlok Chrov primary school in Kampong Chhnang province said her school lacked the resources necessary to sustain a library.  
“We lack a librarian who works regularly. With a librarian, it means that the library will be open more often and that students can go there to read. We also lack reading materials,” Van Samy said.
According to 2013 data from Unicef, the youth literacy rate is 88.4 percent for boys and 85.9 percent for girls.
Attendance at primary school stood at 85.2 percent for boys and 83.4 percent for girls. These figures significantly dropped in secondary school, to 45.9 percent for boys and 44.7 percent for girls.

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