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In this fast moving life everybody wants short cuts to achieve ones goals and for this purpose one finds easiest ways and thanks to information technology (IT) that made it possible. With the revolution in IT, book-reading habit is decreasing in Pakistan, as most of the students depend on computer and Internet facility, according to an Internews report.
Shahid Khan, a lecturer at the Department of Journalism, Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) says with the revolution in technology reading habits are changing across the globe. “In our country there was a culture of reading books even if electricity was not available and people had to read books in streetlights or in the candle lights.” The fact is that libraries have been spending much lower budget on books than in the past, he says. “However now it has been noticed that book reading is becoming obsolete and CD, DVD, and Internet culture is becoming more and more popular,” he added.
Najeeb Ahmed, a National University of Modern Languages student, said: “We cannot blame only digitalized era for this declining trend; there are several other issues including lack of public libraries and writing competitions, lack of encouragement at school level to read books other than course books”.
Israr Ahmed a student said most of the libraries have not the latest books and other material for reading, so students depend on Internet and avoid visiting libraries, adding that concerned authorities should take step in this regard and provide all the latest books to the students.
National Book Foundation (NBF) in this regard is endeavouring to promote book-reading culture in the country. According to an official of National Book Foundation, their efforts are yielding positive results as the number of readers has increased in the recent years.
For promotion of reading culture in Pakistan NBF has devised few schemes including the book dubs that are considered to be the most popular scheme in Pakistan though not a new phenomenon, reading clubs have proved a breath of fresh air into the dying book culture.
“The children who were too wrapped around adding friends and poking friends in Facebook to really know the joys of a good mystery unfolding page by page, which only books can give,” Jonathan Douglas a director of a trust in England that has carried out a study on the reading habits of the youth said. According to a Gilani Research Foundation survey carried out by Gallup Pakistan, 27 percent say “reading is my habit”. Pakistanis read books. The majority of them enjoy informative and religious texts.
The nationally representative survey showed that 27 percent of the respondents read books apart from those prescribed in the students’ syllabi; 73 percent do not read books.
These figures are an encouraging indication in a country with a low literacy rate.
According to the latest Economic Survey (2007-08) the literacy ratio in Pakistan in 2008 is estimated to be 55 percent. But since literacy is defined as the very elementary ability to read a simple sentence, such as a newspaper headline and to write a simple sentence, the figure should be read with caution. The data shows that a higher percentage (31 percent) of men read books as compared to women (23 percent). It is encouraging to see that among the people who read books, majority of the people (56 percent) claim to at least read once a week or more. Eighteen percent (18 percent) said that they read books once every two weeks and the remaining [22 percent] read books once a month. 4 percent did not give an answer.
When the respondents were asked “What type of books do you like to read?” from among a given list of choices, majority (41 percent) said ‘informative books’ followed by ‘religious books’ (30 percent). Next in line were novels/digests/magazines and Poetry books with 27 percent and 10 percent respondents respectively. The data revealed a slight difference in the reading habits of men and women. More men like to read informative books as compared to women who enjoy novels/digests/magazines and poetry books. Most people (52 percent) read books whenever they get the time for it. Before sleeping at night is also another favorite for 30 percent people. Fourteen percent (14 percent) said that they like reading books in the afternoon while only 5 percent liked to read in the morning.