Former President U Htin Kyaw and wife Daw Su Su Lwin graced the opening ceremony of Children’s Literary Festival (Bago) held at the convocation hall of the Bago University, Bago, yesterday morning. The festival was jointly organized by the Ministry of Information, the Ministry of Education and the Bago Region government.
First, the opening ceremony of Children’s Literary Festival and Book Sales Festival (Bago) was held in front of the convocation hall where former President U Htin Kyaw, Union Minister for Information Dr. Pe Myint, Union Minister for Religious Affairs and Culture Thura U Aung Ko, Union Minister for Education Dr. Myo Thein Gyi, Bago Region Chief Minister U Win Thein and six outstanding students cut the ceremonial ribbon.
Next, former President U Htin Kyaw, wife Daw Su Su Lwin, Union Ministers, Bago Region Chief Minister, officials and students took a commemorative group photo.
The second part of the opening ceremony was then held inside the convocation hall where students from Bago Basic Education High School 3, Sub Basic Education High School Pan Hlaing and Pan Private High School sang the theme song to open the ceremony.
This was followed by former President U Htin Kyaw delivering the opening speech. He said the festival was a happy occasion and festival for children in Bago Region. It can be said that the festival promotes the existing love for literature and was seen to include literature talks, competitions, sports events, entertainment, reading and discussing literature and developed the practice of working together. It was heartening and satisfying to see such events being organized for children who would become our future leaders. Through the participation of children in this festival, they would experience happiness for life and instill a willingness to do things together. It was also expected to enhance their existing love for literature and value placed on books. There was a saying “books and literature are our friends.” Conducting festivals like these during the time when children’s willingness to read were being implanted would carry them far in life as per that saying.
And as per that saying, children who were keen to read and had the habit of reading would not be lonely throughout their lives. As long as they have a book or two at arm’s length, that book will be a good friend for them. There is no such thing as being lonely with a book. By reading books that they like, they would gain knowledge and their thinking will develop. Their views would widen as they read books and know more. They would learn lessons on how to overcome difficulties faced in life. It was expected and hoped that with the practice of reading from youth, as they grow older, their reading sectors would increase and they would become more mature and would benefit the country very much.
Persons who read a lot, gave a lot of time to read, who were learned and continue learning were seen in developed countries in this world. That was why our children who would become the elders one day must have the habit and willingness to read starting since they were children. The teachings and guidance of teachers and parents play an important role in this. Especially in a time when the communication technologies were so advanced, there were challenges that could lead them down the wrong path, get wrong ideas, become corrupt and weaken their moralities and ethics. Therefore teachers (and parents) need to guide their children towards reading good literature.
Help children develop a love of reading
There would be requirements for reading rooms and libraries. The willingness to read need to be cultivated. For children to read, they must be accessible to books. Reading rooms and libraries were required. Through reading books, children will become elders. Through lifelong reading, they would learn how to overcome a difficulty in life, how to cooperate, how to explore, cherish and love the natural environment, be considerate, and have a mindset that evil minds were not beneficial for their lives. Through lifelong reading, they would become mature and very valuable youngsters.
Many writerss who wrote good literature that the children read were also much required. Good poems written well would also be required. Many writers who made the youngsters love, value and preserve the natural environment; create adventurous mind, have courage and self-reliance for security in life were required. He would also urge them to write too, said the former President.
Publishers also play an important role in publishing the great writings of the above mentioned writers and authors. Writings of great writers need to be published. So make some profit but make the books reachable (affordable) for children. Many good publishers who published book that encourage education and increased reading rate for our future generation are required.
Make sure books are affordable for children
No one would be able to do things that were not beneficial for them too. All were working for a living. That was why profit must be taken. But make sure that the books were affordable for the children. Another thing seen was translating and publishing of good children literature from abroad.
The quality of the publishing sector, pictures, papers were also seen to have improved. As the way children handled books were not the same as adults, children’s books need to be bounded more strongly. It should be sturdy enough to be handed over from the elder to the younger among the siblings.
Another request would be in translation. Translated materials were good enough to be read by the parents to the children or for the children to read on their own. Some well-intentioned publishers/translators even publish books in both English and Myanmar paragraph by paragraph. However, if translation was not done well or accurately, it would gave the wrong meanings to the children. So when translating, care should be taken to ensure that it was closest or nearest to the original writing.
This festival in Bago was reported to include sectors that were not included in earlier festivals. Technology was used to attract children to reading. It was said to be AR (Augmented Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality).These had increased. There were also competitions. There would be recitation of poems in ethnic languages. Through this children would at least hear the languages spoken by their ethnic brothers and sisters even if they did not understand it. They would get to love the way ethnic brethren spoke. They would want to learn the culture of the ethnic nationals. While attending boarding school, we met with ethnic nationals and spoke in a way for all to understand. It was a matter of increasing friendship and was a major force for the union.
The Ministry of Information, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture etc. together with literature enthusiasts, well-wishers, donors, civil society organizations and locals jointly conducted this festival and once the festival was over, all must not be forgotten. Continue the cooperation to make the children value and cherish books that would give assurance and security for life, develop children literature, increase the numbers of libraries etc. so that children became valued and learned people. Make them knowledgeable and ethical. Make them love the country and nature. Make them intuitive. Encourage them, said the former President.
Speech of Union Minister for Information Dr. Pe Myint
In addressing the event Union Minister Dr. Pe Myint said the festival was jointly organized by Ministry of Information, Ministry of Education and Bago Region government. Union level children’s literature festivals have been held for eight times and the ninth time was being held in Bago Region. It would be continued in other states and regions. It had been conducted in districts and townships.
The main aim of the festival was to make the children happy. We want the children to be happy. However, it was important for all to be happy and the festival was held to provide long term sustainable happiness rather than short term happiness term happiness.
Even though the name was Children’s Literary Festival, it was not a festival for the children alone but a literary festival. Books were on display and put on sale within and outside the hall. Children would be in touch with literature and books. Gift books and books purchased from the festival would be memorable for them. Not only would the children get in touch with literature and book but they would also be able to work together with others. The theme song was sung by 38 children and they need to practice together under the coaching of the teachers. They were taught how to sing together. Through this, they would get the habit of doing things together.
Children’s Literary Festivals were usually held in the convocation hall of a university in the respective state/region/district/township/town. It was because the space was wide as well as enabling primary, middle and high school students to visit a university which they would not be able to do on their own. Children from the region who came to a university during the festival would get the idea of studying in universities later in their life.
Enthusiastic parents who were former university students of Mawlamyine University were seen to have supported a festival held in Mawlamyine University by constructing concrete floor in front of the hall where the festival was held. As a first time, more than 4,280 books were displayed at the ‘All who can read should read’ campaign held in Nay Pyi Taw. Some say people did not read much or literature was not much developed in our country. We do have some weaknesses but it was not true that we do not read much or books were not published much. To show how many books were published for those who want to read, books published in 2018 were collected as much as possible and displayed.
At the festival held in Myitkyina University, literature enthusiasts not only held literature talks but also displayed books. They requested holding children’s literature festival in other townships of Kachin State while pledging to support in any way possible and thus a children’s literary festival was held in Putao. Putao was such a far off and remote place that was difficult to travel and thus hard for books to reach but more than 4,200 books were displayed. Well-wishers, donors and enthusiasts asked not to take back the displayed books and pledged to provide donation for it. As we donated some books, they only needed to buy over 6 million worth of books only. The main point was to show the existence of such enthusiastic people. Through their cooperation the children’s literary festival was held grandiosely.
In short, children’s literary festivals were held with an aim to develop children, make them outstanding and good to make the country’s future bright. Those in attendance were requested to come together and help not only this festival but also for the development of literature, encouraging children to read and to spread knowledge.
Following the speeches students from Bago Region provided entertainment performances.
Later on behalf of the Bago Region government, Bago Region Chief Minister U Win Thein delivered a speech of appreciation and thanked the Ministry of Information; Union Ministers; departmental officials from region, district and townships; town elders; Bago University rector and faculties, students; especially officials from schools in Bago Region for their collective support and hard work towards holding the children’s literature festival successfully.
Former President U Htin Kyaw and party then inspected the exhibits that were displayed in the festival. The Children’s Literary Festival (Bago) will be held daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from 28 to 30 March in Bago University and all those who were interested can participate, it is learnt. —MNA
(Translated by Zaw Min)