Jakarta (ANTARA) - The saying that books are a window to the world is not an exaggeration. Reading books stimulates and enhances the brain, which helps a person embrace the world.

The National Book Day can serve as a reminder for Indonesia to improve its global reading literacy ranking, which has so far remained in the bottom 10.

The aspiration to build a Golden Generation toward Onward Indonesia is closely related to the quality of human resources, and the quality of human resources is influenced by educational factors, including community literacy level.

How can a nation advance if its people do not snap out of their lazy attitude toward reading?

Indonesia's low level of literacy was highlighted during a hearing between Commission X of the House of Representatives (DPR) and acting head of the National Library (Perpusnas), Aminudin Aziz.

A performance evaluation of the National Library in 2024 revealed that the community's reading literacy score is still far from expectations.

Based on the 2022 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) data, Indonesia ranks in the bottom 10 in reading literacy. It is currently ranked 70th out of 80 evaluated countries with a reading literacy score of just 359.

Though it is labeled as a low-literacy society, Indonesia once ranked as the nation with the most active social media users in the world.

An independent research institution in Paris, Semiocast, once named Jakarta the most active Twitter city in the world, ahead of Tokyo and New York.

According to the research, Jakartans expressed all their complaints and feelings on the social media platform, with as many as 10 million tweets a day.

In the research, Bandung City, the capital of West Java, ranked sixth. So, Indonesia had two cities with the most active social media users in the world.

Meanwhile, the We Are Social report in January 2023, pegged the number of Internet users in Indonesia at 213 million, accounting for 77 percent of its total population of 276.4 million.

On average, Indonesians use the Internet for seven hours and 42 minutes per day.

Improving literacy

In the last decade, the government has been striving to improve the quality of human resources by increasing the budget allocation for education, intensifying the Indonesian Reading Movement (GIM), and building supporting infrastructures.

As per the mandate of the 1945 Constitution and Law Number 20 of 2003 concerning the National Education System (Sisdiknas), the government needs to allocate at least 20 percent of the state budget for education.

In 2024, the government allocated Rp665 trillion, or around US$41.6 billion, for education — an increase of 206.68 percent compared to Rp216.72 trillion, or around US$13.5 billion, in 2010.

In addition, the government has built the highest National Library (Perpusnas) building in the world at a cost of Rp465.2 billion, or US$29.1 million.

President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) inaugurated the 27-storey building located on Medan Merdeka Selatan Street, Jakarta, in September 2017.

The magnificent library has a variety of facilities, including a membership service room, reading culture promotion zone, data center, theater room, children, elderly and disability services, rare book collection service, and multimedia services.

As of the end of 2022, Perpusnas had 7,774,375 copies of books in its collection.

To improve literacy, the library is also massively promoting the GIM campaign, which is being supported by several government agencies and non-profit organizations through different programs and themes.

One of the benchmarks that determines the progress of a nation's civilization is the number of libraries.

Indonesia has 178,723 libraries spread across all provinces, according to data from the National Library.

Several innovations and modifications have been pursued when it comes to the libraries set up in the country. Many mobile libraries use cars, while some use boats because they operate in water-dominated regions.

Indonesia is recognized as the country with the second-largest number of libraries in the world after India, but the abundance of books and reading facilities has not been supported by high reading interest.

According to UNESCO data a few years ago, Indonesians' reading interest is only 0.001 percent. This means that out of every one thousand Indonesians, only one is a diligent reader.

The importance of reading has been so obvious. It is even a crucial aspect of a modern and productive life. So, if you are thinking of picking up a reading habit but do not know where to start, these tips may help:

1. Choose books on the topics you like. They do not necessarily need to have serious themes. Start with light books that are full of humor. The important thing is to nurture a love for books.

2. Read in a comfortable, neat, and clean space, wear casual clothes, or try to uplift the mood by wearing a fragrance of your liking.

3. Buy cute stationeries such as pencil cases, bookcases, and bags.

4. Highlight or note any interesting sentences you find in a book.

Related news: Perpusnas urges local libraries to innovate to increase reading habit
Related news: Navy helps Papuan children instil reading habit through mobile library

Editor: Rahmad Nasution
Copyright © ANTARA 2024