Factors Causing Indonesians’ Low Reading Interest

Candeni Tambunan

If you ask every Indonesian whether reading is useful or not, surely everyone would say it is useful. They will even agree that we can obtain many benefits from reading, like increasing one’s knowledge, potential, and skills, honing writing skills, and enlarging vocabulary–all of which are very useful to improve one’s standard of living. But most Indonesians, unfortunately, do not like to read. This has been proven by research from Central Connecticut State University, in March 2016 revealing that Indonesians’ reading interest is very low where. Indonesia was ranked 60th out of 61 countries in terms of reading interest. The low interest in reading is caused by many factors. This essay aims to discuss three of the most influential factors.

The first factor causing the low interest in reading among Indonesians is the unsupportive environment. Many of Indonesians are brought up in the environments that do not provide opportunity to read. When I was in elementary school, I remember my school started its own library when I was in the fifth grade. This means that the students before me never had books to read except their subject textbooks. In addition, even though the library had been built, my school never set aside a special time to visit the library and didn’t demonstrate that reading is important. Schools only focused on discussing learning material according to the curriculum and didn’t provide opportunities for students to read for enjoyment. ‌

The second factor is the lack of family support. Family is the first place for someone to shape their identity and habits. If families support their children by teaching them to love reading since their childhood, surely every Indonesian would love to read and make it a habit. Families can support children’s interest in reading by buying books, reading stories before going to bed, etc. Unfortunately, the majority of parents never care for such things. Only a few parents support their children to read. ‌

Additionally, there is an assumption that reading is something excessive. Even though Indonesians know that reading is important, when they see someone reading a book the majority tend to think that they are overachieving. They tend to ridicule and embarrass them by calling them “nerds.” That causes people who like reading decided to stop it due to the pressure from being the objected of ridiculed. Such phenomenon really happens in my neighborhoods. I had even experienced this myself when I was in the middle school. ‌

The discussion above show there are some factors causing the low reading interest among Indonesians. To increase the reading interest, these factors should be annihilated. Thus, to hone reading interest among Indonesians, children should be provided with opportunities to read, support them by providing reading materials appropriate in types and numbers, and eliminate the notion that reading is something excessive. To realize it, schools, parents and the whole society should get involved.  

*Thanks to the author of Reading Crisis among Indonesian College Students that inspired me to write this essay.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.