The Singaporean Government Wants People To Read More Books

Singapore is home to one of the most effective governments in the world. The ability of the state to create solutions to concrete problems has served it well since the inception of the city-state. Take a walk around Singapore and you’ll find clean streets (and a surprising lack of chewing gum), in addition to fantastic public transportation and infrastructure. Unsurprisingly, this efficiency has permeated into the Singaporean education system. The country currently boasts one of the highest literacy rates in the world with 98% of the population being able to read. However, in spite of this, fewer and fewer Singaporean citizens are reading books. In 2015, a survey showed that only 40% of Singaporeans had read a piece of literature in the past year. For comparison, the Huffington Post survey found 70% of American had read a piece of literature in the past year. Instead, it seems that most Singaporeans would prefer to read informative articles found on news apps or whatever their friends post to Facebook.

To combat this trend the government is making pocket sized books available for around $10. The movement is being spearheaded by the National Library Board (NLB) and is the first in a series of events the NLB is putting together to get people to read. However, even with these types of initiatives, it is questionable if these programs will be enough to promote reading.  

Source: British Council

Source: British Council

Although, it is not as though people in Singapore aren’t reading at all. Singapore is still home to a fairly healthy book scene with dozens of publishers and bookstores dotting the country. People in Singapore are still reading, they’re just not reading fiction and literature. In general, it appears as though reading is seen as a utility skill in society. Reading is not an activity that is regarded as just an activity of leisure or something that will broaden your horizons. Rather, reading is a skill that everyone needs in life. This is something the Singaporean government may have a difficult time remedying. While it is easy to enact government policies to get citizens educated, it is something else entirely to get them to enjoy something.

Perhaps this is indicative of a weakness within the Singaporean system. After all, if you want your people to be educated, it is easier to come up with a series of policies to accomplish this goal. However, it is much more difficult for a government to encourage people to do something like read or exercise, when it can’t pass a concrete law. Time will tell if this initiative will succeed in encouraging Singaporeans to read, and hopefully it will. At the end of the day, it may not be within the control of the Singaporean government to make reading novels more popular. What may save the long practice of reading literature is if the people themselves make the change on their own.

YouTube Channel: Travel to Singapore


Featured image via Today Online

h/t Washington Post