Within the last few years, many people have expressed concern about the low reading interest among Indonesians. Some argued that internet consumption might have changed the reading culture into a digital mode. Obviously, that is no the case in underprivileged areas of Indonesia where electricity and internet connection are still a luxury. Thus, the question is, are the people in those areas really not interested in reading books or are they actually lacking access to reading materials? To address this question, we need to take a closer look at the real situation that may affect the reading culture in underprivileged areas of Indonesia.
Access to books and libraries
Speaking of access to books, purchasing them from the book store is obviously not an option for many people in underprivileged areas due to the low-income and the limited access to book stores. Thus, borrowing books from the library is the most possible way to develop a reading culture. However, the next challenging issue is the availability of libraries and books. The number and condition of the school and public libraries, especially in underprivileged areas, are often inadequate.
According to the data from the Ministry of Education and Culture, as quoted by Beritagar.id in Mei 2018, 34% of the schools in Indonesia still do not have libraries while the existing ones are often in poor condition. The schools located in East Nusa Tenggara and Papua, for instance, are notably lacking proper libraries. More than 70% of the existing ones were heavily damaged or abandoned. Furthermore, the available collection of books is often very limited in numbers and variant that it becomes harder to encourage the children to read. Meanwhile, according to the data processed by Litbang Suaka, 2017, out of 25,728 libraries we have in Indonesia, only around 10% of them that are public libraries which are mostly located in big cities.
Luckily, amid the limited facilities to support the development of reading culture, there are numerous literacy activist and communities who initiated a more feasible and affordable way to improve reading interest among the people in different parts of Indonesia. For the last several years, they have started to provide more and more mini reading corners and moving libraries that are reaching out to the grassroots communities in underprivileged areas. These initiatives had shown a positive response from the community members as well as from the government. As a token of support towards these efforts, the government has appointed PT Pos Indonesia, to provide free service for citizens who want donate and send books to those community libraries and reading corners on the 17th day every month.
Improving Reading Interest in Sumba
As an organization that is focusing on the improvement of education in underprivileged areas of Indonesia, Happy Hearts Indonesia is also eager to provide the facilities that can encourage the development of reading habit among the children in our project area. Last year, in partnership with BL Harbert International, we built three community libraries in our project area on Sumba Island, namely Katura, Hobawawi, and Legalete Village. These unique libraries are made of containers that were turned by the BL Halbert’s team of volunteers into convenient mini libraries.
It is a pleasure to see how these libraries have become a favourite place for children to spend their free time. They seem to slowly develop a love for books. Occasionally, adults are visiting and reading books with children. Such an exciting scene to see on an island where 14% of its population is still illiterate. In the long term, we envision these libraries to be a community centre. We hope to see more visitors of any age can gather, not only accessing various kind of reading materials but also holding various literacy-related activities.
Currently, the book collection is still limited and we are still waiting for book donation from you. Send your book donations for FREE through POS Indonesia.
- Each donor can only send 1 donation package with a maximum weight of 10 kg⠀
- Donations are sent through POS Offices (not Agenpos) throughout Indonesia every 17th of the month
- Must include “BUKU BERGERAK” on each shipment⠀
TBM Legalete – Desa Lagalete, Kec. Wewewa Barat, Kab. Sumba Barat Daya, NTT 87253. Contact: Marniati Umbu Lado (0852-4890-3441)