Free reading is the Arabs’ delayed fate and the impetus for progress

UNESCO celebrated World Book Day and circumvented the idea of ​​a single day, motivating countries and people to practice reading. There is no doubt that free reading or reading has become an intellectual manifestation that is an indication of the progress of people, and the eagerness of its members to increase knowledge, in the pursuit of social progress and openness to others living in the book read is represented, and in the pursuit. of useful entertainment.

Here I do not mean to talk about the reading that the trained student is forced to do, as it forces him to decipher the letters of the read texts, pronounce words, phrases and sentences, extract their meanings and then move on to writing and invest his knowledge in learning more skills to be successful at all stages of his training. I mean rather the free reading to which every human being flees, regardless of his position in life, and whatever his profession, and his scientific and social rank, a free refuge, a desire for more knowledge and broadening of horizons, in the hope to dispel negative feelings that have become one of the most important dangers facing man of the century The twenty, such as loneliness, illness, disappointment, sadness of loss, steady work pressure, and pandemics of all kinds, the youngest of which Corona is. and his sisters, destroying his mental health, threatening his balance and his life. For information, this type of (free) reading or reading would establish knowledge in the reader, broaden his imaginary horizons and protect him from many mental illnesses, according to what has been confirmed by psychologists, learning psychologists, neuroscientists and others.

There are those who ask: Where do the Arabs of free reading come from, and is it true that their reading-reading rate is 6 minutes a year, compared to 200 hours per capita in Europe and America, and that every 20 Arab children read one book per years, compared to a British child reading seven books, and the American eleven books?

a book

Is it a proven fact that one book in the Arab world is issued for every 12,000 citizens in it, as opposed to the publication of one book for every 500 English citizens, and for every 900 German citizens? And other comparisons that show the scope of the case.

To answer these alleged proportions, many magazines, periodicals and newspapers have written articles exposing the miserable reality that Arab readers have become. All Arabs are rather in the field of free reading, seeking knowledge, and want more out of it well. and they elaborated on their pessimistic conclusions regarding culture and intellectual production in the Arabic language. . However, most of her authors, and those concerned with reading conditions, have not bothered to research in depth the validity of this or that assertion, nor have they attempted to examine the context in which it was said, or the verify its boundaries. possibility. Until six years ago, the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation, in collaboration with the United Nations Regional Office’s program, issued the “Arabic Reading Index”, in which researchers were based on a large electronic questionnaire containing more than 148,000 citizens. participated, including 60,680 students, and 87,614 from different social strata.

The results of the questionnaire obtained thanks to the activity of the Arab Index and its statistics showed things about reading that contradict the unstructured assertions mentioned above, and some have previously adopted it as a compelling argument at a low cultural level. , and a strong tendency to ignorance and lack of learning to read!

These results indicate that the total reading level among Arabs, with the calculation of the number of reading hours annually, ranged between 7.78 hours (in Somalia) and 63.85 hours (in Egypt). And an average of 35, 24 hours a year for Arabs. Based on this, what has been mentioned above over the six minutes is nothing more than a myth that should be excluded from the description of reading among the Arabs.

Arabic statistics

The statistics of the Arab Index also showed that Arab citizens, students and professionals, read between 10 and 28 books annually, i.e. on average about 16 books per year. This contradicts previous allegations made about a number of Arab citizens reading one book a year! Here is a reference to the emergence of another priority, which did not exist before, namely the superiority of electronic reading over paper reading in an average of: 19.45 hours of electronic reading, compared to 16 hours of paper reading, and this is due to the sweeping of information technology in the field of circulating texts.

These statistics indicate that there are 12 Arab countries in which citizens exceed the average grade in book reading annually, and these are: Lebanon, Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman. Note that 14% of Arabic readers tended to read foreign books above Arabic (in French and English), at a rate of 10.9 books per year.

In addition, the questionnaire dealt with the degrees of availability within the Arab family to read according to the Arabic index (i.e., the possibilities the family offers its members to enable them to read), and it was shown that it reached its highest levels in: Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco and the UAE, as it exceeded 80% in it.The availability rate in Jordan, Tunisia, Qatar and Bahrain ranged between 70 and 50 percent.

abandoned reading

What can be deduced from the Arabic Reading Index, six years after its implementation, and what are the prospects for free reading or reading in the Arab world? The first thing that can be noticed is that the Arab peoples did not completely abandon the reading, contrary to rumors. While many factors have become harsher on Arab readers, such as the shockingly high price of books (the price of three books in Lebanon today is equal to the minimum wage, for example), the lack of attractiveness of paper reading and the absence of official incentives to buy books provide and encourage reading, Free reading has proven to be firmly entrenched in the consciousness of the Arab man, as evidenced by the doubling of his interaction with texts and written and transmitted documents through electronic and paper media.

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And if it is true that many official and civic initiatives, in all Arab countries, need to be implemented to facilitate reading and make it a matter within the core of forming an informed, open and productive citizen (such as support publishing , the provision of more public libraries, the encouragement of local initiatives to celebrate writers and poets, and scholars, and the multiplication of sites containing valuable texts, and others), the reading level in the Arab world has increased significantly and steadily.

While waiting, the researchers, in collaboration with the countries that hosted exhibitions for Arab publishers on their territory, studied the impact of the Corona pandemic on free reading (negative or positive), while doubling the need for reading in the West during the pandemic by at least 33 percent, and trends differed. Readers to reading, according to a census conducted by the National Syndicate of Publishing in France in 2020, improves those involved, in Arab countries, to reconsider free reading (reading) and consider it an inexhaustible mine, and an invaluable treasure of knowledge, as it nourishes the citizen and contributes to its formation for good What nation builders want, based on knowledge, science, openness and creativity in every matter.

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