Thursday, August 6

Fatimah: Set up ‘Reading Seeds’ groups

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Fatimah (seated centre, carrying a baby) poses with (seated from left) Zulkarnain, Arpah and Dr Ngian and the recipients of ‘Reading Seeds’ kits at Sibu Civic Centre.

SIBU: Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah has proposed the formation of ‘Reading Seeds’ groups to complement the current ‘Reading Seeds’ programme.

She noted that in the context of Sarawak, where libraries are far away from rural areas, such support group can come in to complement the programme’s objective to inculcate the reading culture among the people.

“This (Reading Seeds programme) is a start but of course, this one is not enough. That is why I suggest further, they (parents) form a group – ‘Reading Seeds’ group like what I did in my area,” she told reporters after officiating at the presentation of ‘Reading Seeds’ kits at the civic centre here yesterday.

“Start a group where they feel comfortable with one another – it can be five or more persons in the village or according to district – depending on the suitability as there are logistics and venue for get-together to consider,” she added.

“I have seen it done in developed countries whereby parents formed a support group. They meet once a week and bring their children along for just two hours.

“They either bring their own toys and books and then exchange (with one another). The children can play together while at the same time, parents can read to their children to instil the culture of reading,” Fatimah explained.

She said the aim is to create a society that places importance on literacy, reading culture which mould children into becoming lifelong learners.

On ‘Reading Seeds’ programme, Fatimah said that this is not a one-off programme as the state library will monitor and study the progress of the programme.

She said ‘Reading Seeds’ is a continuation of the ‘Born to Read Programme’ which has been implemented by Pustaka Negeri Sarawak since 2004.

Fatimah said among the objectives are to promote reading culture, help children to read from their young age, and eventually empower them to be independent readers to lifelong learners, getting parents to read to their newborns, give opportunities for frequent activities between parents and their infants to increase intimacy between them as well as acquisition of knowledge from a young age.

The Dalat assemblywoman further said that the Reading Seed Children’s Literacy Programme was started in 1994 by a group of volunteers with the objectives to impact children’s literacy in Pima County. This programme is also known as “Reading Seed: Planting a Love of Literacy”.

“Reading plays an important part in lifelong learning and this important habit should be developed as soon as a child is born,” she pointed out.

Experts she added have also highlighted the potential of reading and talking to infants are not just for language and literacy development but also for other aspects of cognitive development.

“Through Reading Seeds programme, early literacy is being introduced in the early stage of a child’s life. Parents play an important supporting role in efforts to develop reading culture in the family and eventually increase the level of literacy among all levels of society. The parents can help to create that passion for literacy during their children’s critical time in the development of their lifelong literacy.

“It is hoped that through their love of reading, children will grow up into adults feeling confident in their ability to succeed and their self-worth as individuals,” Fatimah said.

She also expounded on the long-term benefits of the programme which included mental stimulations, knowledge and thinking skills, and vocabulary development.

Meanwhile, Sarawak Library deputy chief executive officer (services) Arpah Adenan said the programme had been carried out in Kuching, Lundu, Mukah, Oya and Dalat with the participation of 365 babies and children.

Arpah said for next year and 2020, the programme will be held simultaneous throughout Sarawak.

Also present were Sibu Hospital director Dr Ngian Hie Ung and Sibu District Office and Resident Office representative Zulkarnain Ismail.