Raising a generation that loves reading

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Raising a generation that loves reading
The various emirates and ministries announce initiatives to support Year of Reading

Dubai - Dh100 million fund earmarked for 10-year policy for reading

By Sherouk Zakaria

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Published: Thu 26 May 2016, 8:22 PM

Representatives from the different emirates and ministries gathered to announce the initiatives that will support the Year of Reading 2016.

More than 100 federal and local committees are working on 340 national initiatives across the country to endorse the habit of reading in the UAE in line with the Year of Reading.

Representatives of the executive councils of the seven emirates and representatives of the Ministry of Health and Prevention, Ministry of Education, and Ministry of Culture, Youth and Community Development made the announcement at a Press conference held at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Dubai, on Wednesday.

Sharifa Mousa, advisor at the Ministry of Education; Ahmed Al Haddabi Head of Libraries at the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Community Development; Dr. Fadila Mohammed Sharif, Director of Health Education and Promotion at the Ministry of Health were among the attendees.

The upcoming projects, which will target all segments of society, are aimed at making reading a part of the UAE society and promoting a lifelong learning process among future generations.

Earlier in May, the UAE had announced a 10-year National Policy for Reading to encourage the habit of reading among all age groups and to ensure 80 per cent of children and 50 per cent of adults read actively. The policy was backed by a Dh100 million fund.

Ministry of Education's initiatives
Reading ambassadors' initiative
Reading carnival and annual reading festival in September-October
Summer programme in July-August
Abu Dhabi's initiatives
Exhibitions, competitions and public libraries that will provide families with books in partnership with Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage and Abu Dhabi Educaton Council (ADEC) throughout 2016.
Dubai's upcoming initiatives include:
Audio and digital books to be added in public transport (RTA) starting June until DecemberMohammed bin Rashid Library (Dubai Municipality) in 2017Moving exhibition (Dubai Culture and Arts Authority) at Dubai Mall in October.
Findings of a national survey earlier showed UAE individuals read 1.5 books per year, while 78 per cent of Emirati adults do not actively read. Average Emirati households have only 20 books, compared to 200 books in the United Kingdom.

The average rate of reading among UAE students is four books per year compared to 40 books in South Korea.

Saeed Al Eter, executive director of the prime minister's office said that with these laws, the government is moving in the direction of making a permanent change. Initiatives are developed for long-term effects.

"It takes a long time to raise a generation that loves reading. It is a habit you cannot get rid of once you start, and is therefore permanent," he added.

Sharifa Mousa Hassan, advisor at the Ministry of Education, told Khaleej Times that the aim is to build a society that embraces the culture of reading.

"Reading has become a requirement in the UAE society in schools and the workplace. Teachers and employees are given three hours a week to read. When reading activities are everywhere, even in public places, the habit will inevitably spread to all members of the society who are either students or employees," said Hassan.

She stated that different activities have been launched among 450 government schools in Dubai and the Northern Emirates to encourage reading.

"School curricula are adjusted to enhance students' reading habits. Exams now are more focused on open questions that test critical thinking and reading skills more than memorisation," noted Hassan.

She added that schools are evaluated based on their implementation of the Ministry of Education's strategies that complement the year of reading.

Hassan stressed the importance of understanding the new meaning of reading.

"Reading is about gathering information, not only from a book, but from social media platforms, websites and online articles. We must get out from classic form of reading," she said.

Abdulraheem Bateeh, head of public service at Abu Dhabi Media, said that the spread of the culture of reading is aimed to achieve innovation, not just increase reading hours per day.

But Aisha Abdulla Miran, assistant secretary general at the executive council of the Government of Dubai, said the UAE faces a challenge in encouraging the habit in a generation that is not used to reading.

"If reading is not taken up from childhood, it will become harder to endorse it later on," she said. "Creating an environment where reading is part of the daily life among all segments of the society is the plan."

Dubai's initiatives reached 162 and will address children, parents and schools. Reading will be encouraged in public spaces (beaches and malls) and transport.


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