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January 19, 2020

The habit of reading and studying history

Khin Maung Oo

English philosopher Sir Francis Bacon said, “Reading maketh a full man.” Since our youth these words have been deeply etched in our minds. In fact, it encouraged us to read books and thus we learnt to understand the value of reading. Some of my friends were less interested in reading, but due to our encouragement, reading became acquired hobbies for them. Wonderfully enough, we found out that a dull childhood friend became a well-known lawyer in our native town. I came to know that he was very fond of reading books.  His thirst for knowledge and his habit of reading books brought him up to this stage. There are numerous people all over the world including Myanmar who became famous through reading. To put it simply, there were only a meager amount of books in our salad days, compared to reading materials which are present nowadays. Cutting-edge technology paves ways for us to go to the world library—Google and web pages. It really helped us greatly.
But, on 20th July 2017 State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said some noteworthy words regarding reading. The State Counsellor said, “Reading can be categorized into two—academic reading and reading as a hobby. I would like to claim that the world would be a very narrow place for a man without the habit of reading. It would be a life devoid of meaning for him. This is why children need to develop reading habits. Going to libraries and literacy must be encouraged. For the latter, a librarian plays an important role. Being a librarian is a dignified profession and one that deserves respect. They must have qualities of persuading people to read. Nowadays, reading habits are weakening among people. I am afraid that our children will become narrow-minded. Instead, I would like them to love reading books and reading materials. Searching Google for a fact on the internet is not sufficient to become a reader because it will give only the outlooks and opinions of compilers of Google.” She also noted the decreasing number of distinction winners in the subject of history in matriculation exam results, stressing the importance of studying history, calling the subject “the foundation of politics” or “the study of our society, our world and humankind.”
In fact it highlighted two things to us. Although Google may be a place of great help and importance for us we must turn our steps towards libraries which are really good and perfect sources of knowledge. The other thing is that today’s children are becoming less interested in history. It can also lead us to ignorance of politics. In brief, our authorities should take this matter into serious consideration—establishment of good libraries and instilling in our youths the love of books and reading. This should be done on a priority basis as we need educated citizens for our democracy to survive and to thrive.

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