Thursday, August 8, 2013

Turks don't read: only 1 out of 10,000 are regular readers

Zaman: Poor reading habits in Turkey due to exam-based education system
31 March 2013 /İPEK ÜZÜM, İSTANBUL 
As Turkey marks the 49th Library Week across the country this week, some librarians have stated that the poor reading habits in Turkey are due to the exam-based education system in which the cognitive and intellectual development of children is being neglected.
According to a study released by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in January 2013, a smaller number of Turks read books regularly than people in European countries. The study states that in European countries 21 people out of 100 read books regularly, while in Turkey that same statistic is one person out of 10,000. Turkey ranks 86th in the world for the amount of time a country’s residents read, the study revealed. According to the study, Turks watch an average of six hours of TV a day and surf the Internet three hours a day but only dedicate six hours a year to reading a book. The UNESCO report also reveals that reading books is in 235th place on a list of things most valued in life by Turks.
Attributing the poor reading habits in Turkey to its education system, Turkish Librarians’ Association (TKD) Chairman Ali Fuat Kartal said during an interview with Sunday’s Zaman that Turkey has an exam-based system in which the students mainly only focus on preparing for the exams, adding that the students’ cognitive and intellectual development is neglected. “Another factor is that teachers at Turkish schools don’t read much. It is important for students to see their teachers reading, which might direct them to reading books. ...
‘Insufficient number of libraries’
Stating that the number of libraries is limited in Turkey, where the population is over 75 million, Kartal added that there are only 1,112 public libraries in the country, further stating: “The conditions of libraries are not very good as the books and other materials in the public libraries are not regularly updated. They are filled with outdated books. Libraries should be updated with newly published books at regular intervals to keep the interest of readers or visitors alive.”

However, a source from the same AKP that uses its state influence to get corrupt media moguls to self-censor their reporters so they can win state contracts for their holding company and when that fails arrest or charge journalists with terrorism, invents some creatively optimist facts about Turkish reading habits:

At odds with the first interviewee and the UNESCO report, Turkish Publishers’ Association President Metin Celal told Sunday’s Zaman that Turkey’s reading habits are not so much low as exaggerated. Pointing to a study conducted by the Culture and Tourism Ministry in 2011, Celal stated: “According to the study, 7.2 books are read per person a year on average in Turkey, which is not that low compared to some other countries in the world. Turkey has higher rates than most of the countries in the world. Despite this, Turkey’s reading habit rates are not yet sufficient.”

I will believe UNESCO and not the Turkish state's organs on this one.

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