TWO DAYS AGO the newspaper discloses two exciting news to those of us who like reading and playing. These are two ordinary pleasures that have hooked us since we were children. Our teachers and our parents have encouraged us since and over the years our moments have been taken up with pouring over words and writings in books, documents, newspapers and whatever materials that comes by. Bilingualism or proficiency in more than one language surely would add justice and gainful ship since you would be opened to the richness of knowledge. Enjoying the games on the school fields, participating as team members or individually and being rewarded with take-home medals or silver cups of varied sizes, cheered by friends and encouraged by relatives and parents help to a no less small way make you a man. We seem to adhere to the Latin phrase "a healthy mind in a healthy body" and no doubt it has paid tremendously all these years.
Now out of the blues, the Minister of Education Malaysia and the Deputy Prime Minister himself has awakened to the befallen standard of participation in games. Be it at the village, school, district, state and national levels our participation in games have fallen on the waysides. Competiveness is not the order of things, much less the desires to participate. Malaysia's grand position at the South East Asia's level and much less the International dimension is nothing to be proud of.
In short, it suddenly dawn after several decades that, our schools have shied away from extra-curricular activities namely games, sports, physical education etc. The school playing fields seems to be reserved only for it ambience. Daily exercises and P.E as part of the school curriculum which helped to identify the muscular students as everyone has to bare himself top up died a natural death. Added to that, teachers with options to teach physical education, sports activities and helped to promote team spirit, sportsmanship and competiveness become a dying breed. Other options take precedence and naturally the school children face the other directions. Not their faults.
Now it is about turn at least. How far will it go? Will the Education Ministry itself help to check the wrought? In no way will it be possible unless it works with other related Ministries and Departments. Nonetheless it is a welcome change and for many of us already with grown-up children, hopefully the grandchildren and future Malaysian youth will shine with colors in their faces, with active muscles and veins helping them to be healthy citizens and no doubt taking them away at regular times from the confines of their rooms and computer machines.
Malaysians outpouring over the delights of books however seems to strike a record of sort, not something we can cry out or shout to the world or even to our nearby neighbor. The newspapers let out a catastrophic secret though not a surprise to many. After several attempts or programs to get Malaysian to read even at allowing RM1000.00 as tax rebate for the purchase of books, the media discovers that we just don't read enough. Statistics show that out of 85 percent who read regularly their preference go like this: 77 percent for newspapers; 3 percent for books; 3 percent for magazines and 1.6 percent for comics. So don't expect to see our people reading or browsing over books while in the trains, aero- planes or at moments when they are free.
The fallacy will be discovered when the school systems realized that they too have fallen short at inspiring our youth to read. The absence of literature classes or even library breaks has caused detrimental damage.
Can we expect another sudden turn around?