The sun shone brightly and the wind blew hard. As in mostly parts in Indonesia, it was now dry season in Uluwae Village, Ngada Regency, East Nusa Tenggara Province. It was around 9.30 in the morning. Some children were studying math in class, they were sixth-graders; but the rest were outside. It was actually a break period. Some children were playing; the other – especially the girls - did a chit-chat. In the distance, the happy boys were playing football in the meadow. Only few children seemed busy taking jerry cans and brooms. It was their turn to clean-up the classroom.
Asri was different. The fifth-grade student was alone in the library, reading a Christmas story. She said that she likes reading and her favorite story is Snow White. “I have just finished reading the story,” Asri said with a smile face. This girl also likes fable, a story that features animals. She was trying to choose the book she wants. Then, she found it. The book was about an elephant and its friend. She continued to say, “Unfortunately, there are not many storybooks in the library. Most of the books are textbooks.” Those books are too serious to read during break and some of them are teaching manuals for teachers. Asri, whose dream is becoming a midwife, hopes that there will be more books so that she and her friends would be more enjoy sitting in the library.
No More Mobile Library Since 2015
It needs a big effort to increase children’s reading interest. “Our problem is lack of books,” Yasinta Iga (48) said. She is Vice Principal of Ngusumana Catholic Primary School. “We received funding for library from the government only in 2006 and 2008.”
She said that reading interest in this school is low for young children who are just learning to read. “We don’t have enough picture storybooks. First and second-graders still needs books with large letters surrounded by pictures.”
It used to be a mobile library from the local government. Although it came to school in the afternoon, when the students were already at home, they returned to school only for reading. “The mobile library has not stopped by our school since 2015. We don’t know why,” told Yasinta, who has been a teacher in this school for more than ten years. She thinks that mobile library route has moved to another area.
Ending the conversation, Yasinta hopes that there will be support in terms of the picture storybooks. “We want to improve young children’s reading by providing suitable reading materials.”
Written by Regina Veronica, Editor, Wahana Visi Indonesia