Why Indonesian Students Have a Low Interest in Reading

Edel Trudis Uto

Reading is the main way for students to gain information. Students everywhere read textbooks, magazines, articles, and internet posts to get and enrich their knowledge and to find solutions for the problems they found in the learning. Unfortunately many Indonesian students still ignore reading. Many of them even think reading uninteresting. Consequently, the reading interest of Indonesians especially children is very low. Data from UNESCO points out that the percentage of children who like to read is only 0.01%. That means, only 1 out of 1000 children in Indonesia like reading. There are various causing the low reading interest among Indonesian students. This essay discusses three of the major reasons.

The first reason why Indonesian students have a low interest in reading is the domination of the oral tradition. Most of us prefer to speak than to read and write, and this cause us not to have proper reading habit. We only read to finish assignments from school. In our spare time, we prefer to watch movies/television, play games, go shopping in malls or just have fun at random places chatting and gossiping. To make matter worse, most of the parents also don’t encourage their children in reading. ‌

Secondly, being a bookworm tends to get bullying. In Indonesia, a bookworm considers as a person with a lack of social interaction. They are usually made the object of bullying from their peers. For the bully, acting to look cooler and being a young adult man is interesting instead of drowning yourself in a book. I experienced when I was in Senior high school. I liked to read a novel and some of my friends always called me with bookworms. Even though, I just read my novel in my leisure time. ‌ ‌

The last reason is that reading is considered as just an activity related to school papers. This is the fact that I see around me even today. Most students read only to search the material necessary to finish their homework. To make it worse, many students just read minimally—without any interest. They just scan and skim the information that suits the assignment. Finishing the paper, reading stops and they will choose to play instead of reading a book. This means: no assignment is no reading.

These three reasons, i.e. excessive love of speaking (oral communication), negative view of reading, and misunderstanding of the essence of reading make Indonesian students have a very low interest in reading. To improve the quality of education in Indonesia, efforts to increase students’ reading interest is a must.

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

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