Deputy Sultan extols values of reading
Azrol Ami

HIS Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Deputy Sultan, yesterday called on parents to play their part in cultivating the reading habit so as to aid in the development and progress of Brunei Darussalam.

In a sabda to officiate the opening of the National Conference to Empower the Reading Culture at the Rizqun International Hotel in Gadong yesterday, His Royal Highness described parents as “role models and agents of change”, and encouraged them to become the best of examples to their children in inculcating the values of reading whilst at the same time, promoting quality family time through this healthy routine.

“From my point of view, in order to generate a knowledgeable community that reads, it would be wise for efforts to be concentrated upon the younger generation because they are the inheritors of our nation,” said His Royal Highness.

Acknowledging that such an endeavour would come with its challenges especially with a world witnessing the existence of less and less borders, what was stressed by His Royal Highness was the hedonism way of life that emphasises on pleasures that come in the form of new technology whose impact has resulted in the indiscriminate act of time wasting without recognising limits, among other things.

“This phenomenon is the basis for the loss of free time that could be used for reading, thinking and Zikir,” His Royal Highness said.

“We should strengthen our commitment, work to overcome these challenges with wisdom and thinking forward” to include the development of the country’s human resource, specifically educators and librarians, His Royal Highness added.

According to His Royal Highness, another avenue to improve the country’s literacy rate, which currently stands at 90 per cent percentile, is through research that should aim for 100 per cent literacy rate among the people.

“Our efforts and abilities to change minds, transform cultures and inadvertently combine thinking skills in the teaching and learning processes in our education should be multiplied,” said His Royal Highness. And in order for such initiatives to be carried out smoothly, His Royal Highness noted that the country’s infrastructure, facilities and access to reading material should be improved including efforts related to the Compulsory Religious Education Order 2012.

“With these, I believe that we can support this ambition in individual development and national progress that is based on the Malay Islamic Monarchy (MIB) philosophy and Zikir Nation as per the vision of my father, His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam,” said His Royal Highness.

On a governmental level, His Royal Highness expressed his hope that the core agencies, particularly the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Religious Affairs and the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, “could further improve and strengthen the culture of reading” through teaching and learning systems introduced in lower and higher education and by providing the necessary tools to encourage a reading culture and life-long learning..

“A successful civilised culture is one that encourages reading and through these means, a culture can achieve and benefit from the branches of knowledge that can make them even more creative, innovative and constantly ready to move forward in an economic climate based on knowledge,” HRH noted.

The two-day event is hoped to enhance, explore and widen the purpose of the agencies that are involved and for them to produce programmes that are functional as well as practical in promoting the reading culture. - Borneo Bulletin (14 March 2013)