Why Indonesian Students Have Low Reading Interest

Nurmauli Panjaitan

Reading is an important, even the best, way to get new knowledge and to develop thinking. Therefore, it should be an activity everyone loves to do every day. It must even be a lifestyle. What is more, reading is invaluable activity one can pay for at a high cost. Despite these, Indonesians still have a low interest in reading. A study from Central Connecticut State University in 2016 reported that Indonesia ranked 60th out of 61 countries in reading interest. In other words, Indonesia ranks second-last in reading interest. The low interest in reading, of course cannot be separated from one’s bad habit in reading, especially among students. This essay discusses three major factors causing the low interest in reading among Indonesian students.

First of all, current students are Generation Z (Gen Zers’) that prefers everything instant. This is caused by the fact that they intensive use of technology since their childhood. They play, entertain, communicate, and shop by means of technology. Nothing wrong with these, actually. But technology should be used wisely. The tendency to have everything instantly cause today’s students to find information from YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media, because the information is short and can be easily used to complete assignments. I, admittedly, also experience this. I would rather just read a synopsis or a short review than read the book directly. Consequently, I dislike long texts and do not appreciate the process of reading. It is not surprising if I then unable to get deep understanding of the topic I learn.

The second factor is that today’s students prefer to read pictorial reading. As a consequence, when faced with long texts without pictures, we tend to be pessimistic in understanding the text. Images in a reading do have benefits. But if you continue to rely on reading like this, you will lessen your critical thinking. You will also be lazy to think, because you only focus on the images in the texts. This will certainly make you apt to to be picky in reading.

The third factor is the view that reading is a burden. Many college students admit that they read only to do the assignment instructed by their lecturer. The reading for the assignment is also kept to be minimum. They will first try to find a synopsis or a short review rather than read the assigned text books or journal articles. In this case, reading is done only for the sake of finishing the assignment. When the assignment is submitted, there is no more reading activity. This seems to make reading a burden that is done by force. This also proves the lack of awareness of students in growing interest in reading. ‌

The three factors above, preferring the instant and short read, propensity to choose pictorial reading, and the view of reading as a burden, make todays’ student reading poor. To change this, student awareness of the importance of reading should developed. They should be made aware that reading is an invaluable activity with low cost. Realizing this, students may repent and use the opportunity to foster their reading interest.

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

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