Reading is the cornerstone of education. A good book can become one of the most important channels for a child to undergo self-exploration and navigate the outside world. A good, interactive reading environment and joyful atmosphere not only help children acquire knowledge and information, but also contribute to their spiritual development. However, the reading culture and reading volume per capita in Malaysia continue to decline over the years.
According to a UNESCO study, the literacy rate in Malaysia is 93.12%, but the average person reads only two books a year. An e-commerce company reported in a survey that Malaysians purchased an average of one book per person in 2018, but the vast majority of these book purchases were not for reading, but as mere decorations or gifts. Although many of our community and public libraries provide free access to books to the public, it is difficult to help children develop reading habits due to the overall declining reading culture in our country.
To cultivate good reading habits among primary and secondary school students, the Malaysian Social Entrepreneurs Foundation (MSEF) has joined hands with primary and secondary schools and community organizations across the country to launch the “Lighthouse Library Project”, which aims to build or fund the revamping of hardware facilities of 100 school libraries within 10 years. Besides this, this project also intends to subsidize community organizations to cultivate reading habits among primary and secondary school students.
One of the programmes under this project is called the “Lighthouse Interactive Reading Club”, which uses storytelling, theatre, and plays to attract students’ attention and enhance their interest in reading. In this way, students can truly experience reading in a broader and more interactive sense, instead of just being limited to books. Many people blame the declining reading culture on the rapid development and popularity of the internet and electronic products, condemning the Internet for plunging humans into a never-ending stream of information that causes them to fall prey to “fragmented reading” and resulting in an inability to read physical books in depth.
However, as we enter the digital age, it is an inevitable trend that fewer and fewer people are reading books. Since we cannot stop students from being exposed to digital and information technology, our priority should be focused on helping them cultivate their digital reading literacy and utilizing these tools correctly, such as to read, search, browse and integrate information more efficiently. In this way, we can meet the needs of this modern era as well as promote the teaching of both in-depth and digital reading in the future of education.
In order to be prepared for the dawning of the digital age, the Malaysian Social Entrepreneurship Foundation (MSEF) will also be building a “Lighthouse Electronic Library” to enhance students’ digital reading literacy and independent learning ability, and further promote the “Digital Reading and Writing Learning Program”, which allows students to learn how to evaluate and integrate online information through fun reading and writing games on the platform, and host activities such as “Digital Reading Competition” to provide students with opportunities to showcase their achievements and facilitate interaction between schools.
The Malaysian Social Entrepreneurs Foundation (MSEF) is committed to enhancing students’ reading comprehension and literacy in the digital age, as well as nurturing their independent learning capabilities, thereby enhancing our country’s competitiveness in the international arena. This project relies on the recognition and participation of all sectors of the community. Therefore, through the “Lighthouse Online Book Donation Platform”, the Malaysian Social Entrepreneurs Foundation (MSEF) hopes that the public can donate books or monetary contributions online to bring knowledge, hope, and kindness to communities in need. The “Lighthouse Project” is also a way for the Foundation to promote reading as the brightest light in the education system and to illuminate the children’s futures.