Reading for the Future

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  • TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Indonesians appear to have a low interest in reading, at least according to the World’s Most Literate Nations study published by the Central Connecticut State University in 2016, which ranked Indonesians at 60 of the 61 nations studied. The lack of interest in reading has encouraged literacy movements in a number of regions to take action. The Lakoat.Kujawas community has opened a library in the Taiftob village, East Nusa Tenggara, where English and writing classes are also made available for children and teenagers. Meanwhile, youths in Enrekang, Southeast Sulawesi, and in Agam, West Sumatra, have opened libraries to help foster a culture of reading among villagers. To commemorate International Mother Language Day on February 21, Tempo English reports. 

    Celebrating Literacy

    The Lakoat.Kujawas community has stirred a love for books and learning among North Mollo locals through the community’s library and art activities. 

    I want to become a pastor," said Markus Aldino Sesfaot. "But also want to be like my idol, Detective Conan." Dino, short for Aldino, is still an eighth grader at the St. Yoseph Freinademetz Catholic Middle School in the Taiftob Village, North Mollo, South Central Timor Regency. The village is about 130 kilometers away from Kupang, the capital of Nusa Tenggara Timur (NTT). But although the capital is quite far from his village, about a four-hour trip by car, the 13-year-old is already working to make his dream a reality. 

    Conan is no real-world person. The detective is a manga character created by Japanese author Aoyama Gosho. Conan is intelligent, has a sharp eye for clues, is kind and loves to help others. Dino discovered Conan about two years ago when he was in sixth grade. Since then, he has read around 72 volumes in the Detective Conan series, now in its 92nd volume. Dino has not read all 92 because the Lakoat.Kujawas Library only has the first 72 volumes. 

    Apart from Conan, Dino has also devoured series of Doraemon, a manga by Japanese author Fujiko F. Fujio and fairy tale books, not to mention the numerous natural sciences encyclopedia volumes he found in the library. He loves reading so much that last year he borrowed 126 books from the library. "I always read after I’ve studied and done my homework," he said. 

    As it happens, the Lakoat.Kujawas Library is only about a 15-minute walk from Dino’s home. Besides reading, he’s also taking writing classes as well as theater and English classes with other children from the Taiftob Village. 

    His eagerness to learn with Lakoat.Kujawas has led Dino to begin writing. But because he doesn’t own a computer, he writes his short stories in notebooks. There are stories about a struggling samurai, a kind-hearted parrot, and a battle between mankind and aliens on Earth. He wishes to publish books when he has become a pastor. 

    It looks like part of Dino’s plans will be fulfilled sooner than he thought. The library’s administrators are now in the process of selecting one of his short stories to be published along with 14 other works of fiction written by children in the village. Next month, the anthology will be published by an independent publisher. "This book is our library’s long-term product," said Dicky Senda, founder of the Lakoat.Kujawas. Dicky himself recently published a work of fiction titled Sai Rai. 

    Read more inspiring Outreach stories in Tempo English Weekly Magazine