Skip to main content

A Reading Society

Beginning of a new era? 
His Majesty the King of Bhutan has officially declared 2015 as the National Reading Year in the country. It is exciting and an appropriate year to mark Reading Year dedicated to His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo's 60th Birth Anniversary. And the event has inspired many schools in the country to approach reading from various angles and with numerous innovative activities.

School is a place where we breed reading habit in our children. Some say home is where it begins, but I think school is where it all starts. And therefore, I see teachers playing critical role in cultivating this crucial habit in our children. Importance of reading can never be understated.

Until recently, in Bhutan reading is equated with difficult chores. Some even brand it punishment having to read a book. As a result, not many of us in Bhutan grow up loving to read. At schools students read books under so much pressure instead of seeing it as enjoyable activity. And most teachers do not read themselves. The National Reading Year is expected to change all that forever as students and teachers are inspired to read. If reading becomes a fashion now, we would become a reading society one day when everyone spends time reading books.

Coming from a farming background, I was rather good at reading the signs in the clouds in the sky or the falling tree-leaves or singing cuckoos. I did not develop the habit so easily. It came with so much effort. And even today I still struggle to finish some books that I have started to read. I assume most Bhutanese fall in the same trap. That's not generalization by the way.

Reading Year is timely and comes at a time when social media is sucking our time and energy. People would rather spend time chatting with their friends on Facebook than reading a book. Thus, the National Reading Year would pay us a big dividend.

And good thing is, it is only the beginning of many good things and building blocks to a reading society. I see all schools in the country continuing their wonderful efforts in promoting reading in their schools. They have done great things to encourage their children to read and we hope that they continue with the same level of effort and enthusiasm year after year. We also need support for such activities to flow in from all directions like it is happening now.

Reading is a habit. But more than anything it is an essential skill. And the kind of books an individual reads certainly defines him/her. It is heartening to know that today more and more Bhutanese are becoming avid readers. It is clear from many fora and the sort of discussions that ensue in those groups. 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Our throw-it-away culture

Like all grandparents, my late grandma would call food 'tsampa rimpoche' and any fuss made about it would invite everyone's sneer and scoldings. Food is always treated with respect and is never wasted. "If you waste food in any manner," she would admonish us. "One day food will discard you and you will go hungry." 
What remained from the previous meal would be turned either into porridge or sometimes leftover rice would be dried in the sun. The dried rice would then be fried into puffed rice and consumed with cups of suja. When there was so much food left, especially during big events, leftover rice or kharang would be mixed with a small amount of yeast and brewed into ara.  
The only thing that I can vividly recollect from my primary school days is how we would be hungry most of the time. Food we were served was hardly enough to tickle our throats. We would be sent home only once a week on Saturdays and that was our opportunity to replenish our popcorn s…

The Story Thief

When we were growing up in a small village in the central Bhutan, we would gather around our grandparents every evening in a room that would be dimly lit with a kerosene lamp. Our grandparents or the elderly members of the family would then take turns to entertain us (siblings and cousins who lived under the same roof) with their stories. Such was the only form of entertainment we had had then.  
Our grandparents would start their stories, which they probably would have heard them from their grandparents. A young poor boy becomes a successful farmer by a turn of luck, a man fights a bear, a poor boy accidentally marries a rich man's beautiful daughter, a lame monkey helps a boy find great wealth, a rooster regrets his action after he mistakenly accuses his wife and young men go on business trips to buy cattle, among many others. We grew up listening to many such stories. Sometimes, the storyteller would narrate the same story again and again, and yet every time it sounded more magi…

Utpal Academy - Bhutan's first All-girls High School

Welcome to Bhutan’s first all-girls school. Isn’t that wonderful news to all our parents? Certainly, as a parent of a one-year old daughter I am excited about the coming of a school exclusively dedicated to the needs of girls. Our girls need special treatment, which we can for sure entrust the responsibility to Utal Academy, Paro.
I really like the name – Utpal – in Buddhist world, Utpal is another name for lotus flower, which is believed to grow from mud and yet blossoms into a beautiful and majestic flower. It stands for purity and many deities are depicted holding flower Utpal, more prominently Jestusn Dolma, the Goddess Tara. Symbolically, it also stands for the transformation of our girls. What an apt name for the school!
The Principal’s message posted on the academy’s website promises providing our young women an “opportunity to participate fully in a wide range of extracurricular activities to develop skills and qualities that will lead to successful and fulfilling life.” That’s…