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The Borneo Post. http://www.theborneopost.com/?p=37794

Reading habits have a bearing.

By Samuel Aubrey

Not going to libraries among factors identified for poor academic results among Pantai Damai students

KUCHING: Lack of interest to go to libraries and the tendency to go for light reading materials are among factors identified for the poor academic results among students in Pantai Damai constituency.

To counter this, a month-long Reading Month is being held starting July 1 to cultivate reading habit among both the young and old in the constituency through competitions such as spelling bee, reading campaigns for school leavers and senior citizens, and a ‘bacathon’.

Pantai Damai assemblyman Dr Abdul Rahman Junaidi, in announcing this yesterday, said Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department (Human Resource and Training) Datin Fatimah Abdullah had been invited to officiate at the opening of the Reading Month at Pustaka Negeri on Sunday.

“We want to cultivate the reading habit among our people because reading is the key to more knowledge and information. It is quite ironic that although we have a big library (Pustaka Negeri) situated in the constituency, the number of locals going there is small, and comprising mainly students.

“This is unlike Singapore where libraries are the focal points for people to relax and do their reading,” he said at his service centre in Jalan Haji Taha here yesterday.

Other activities lined up include a contest for the best reading corner in individual houses, a NILAM Project contest for primary school pupils with the highest number of books borrowed from library, a book synopsis competition, Pustaka Negeri membership drive, and a signboard-making competition.

These activities will be organised jointly by Pantai Damai Education Bureau, Pustaka Negeri and schools in the constituency. Dr Rahman also announced that seminars for public examination candidates would be held concurrently this month and August.

These seminars, jointly organised with Yayasan Sarawak, are targetted for the 866 UPSR, 719 PMR, 558 SPM and 79 STPM examination candidates from 16 schools in Pantai Damai.

“Normally before this, these schools have to conduct the seminars on their own. This year, we are holding them with the help of Yayasan Sarawak,” he said.

To a question, Dr Rahman admitted that the examination results especially UPSR among schools in his constituency had been average all these years.

Nonetheless, he was happy that the results had improved with the increasing awareness of both teachers and parents in improving the academic results of the students.

“I can say that our schools are not as good compared to other urban schools in Kuching. We used to have two or three schools with passing rates below 40 per cent, and were clustered under the lowest achieving schools.

“But now, we no longer have this type of schools (lowest achieving), and the best school in Pantai Damai has reached passing rate of over 75 per cent. Over the years, results have improved, awareness levels have increased, and the teachers and headmasters are now more responsive and enthusiastic in their work,” he said.

As for PMR and SPM results, he said the standard of schools in Pantai Damai was also catching up with the rest in Kuching, while the number of dropouts had also decreased.
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