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Plain and Simple: Starting them young

It is the season of schools’ press conferences, and school paper advisers are busy in training their campus journalists and preparing their school publications.

For so many years, I have been involved in this DepEd organized activities either as judge or as trainor (if this word existed in the English dictionary).

I have observed out that pupils who love reading usually score so high against those who do not. This is as clear as the sun that shines in the morning.

And this saddens me. Even if they are “kuno” contestants of the event in the press conferences, they really do not read. Only one or two. I can count them with my fingers.

Only a handful students develop the love for reading. No amount of training can magically transform them to write news, features, editorials, and sports stories if they do not read. Why are they there in the first place?

No Antonio Ajero or Aurelio Pena or Estella Estremera or Amy Cabusao or Manila journalists can transform them to be writers if they don’t do this basic requirement: reading. And this holds true to the school paper advisers. If they too do not read, no use dreaming for the win in NSPC.

But look, when pupils are trained to love reading, the difference is evident in their writing. An adviser in DavNor showed me the score of how Davao region performs this year in Lingayen. Davao is 7th place.

But all is not lost. If advisers love to read, this value will cascade to their pupils. They know that. Writing becomes a natural result when advisers and pupils enjoy reading. Believe me.

I had a first year college student in Ateneo, and I noticed how elegant she wrote her essays. I told her she writes well. Demurely, she smiled. She gave no explanation.

She loved reading. Grade school in Ateneo she was reading a lot. I mentioned the books I read and she read them all. Vanessa read more. Reading was her pastime. She loved to read for so many beautiful reasons.

So since she has stock knowledge in her brain, they flow naturally in her essays. And so I encouraged her to join essay contests. Vanessa was not so keen about joining.

But one day she joined the essay writing contest organized by the historical society of Davao. She was first in that writing contest and she was richer by P15,000. Not bad for a college student. Three other essay writing contests she joined and she was first in all those.

Vanessa was richer by P45,000 more. And I told her, see there is money in writing. And she smiled.

Vanessa joined the Ramon Magsaysay Essay Writing tilt, and she won the Mindanao leg. She competed with others in Visayas and the capital region, Vanessa was first. She humbled her counterparts in the big city.

After a series of interviews and essay contests, Vanessa came home to Davao being the Ramon Magsaysay Awardee on Essay Writing. Did she need the writing training from people in the National Capital Region? No. She read. And read. And enjoyed reading.  Her love for reading knew no bounds. She developed reading until it became her hobby.

I like this reading program of Dr. Joy Bariquit of the Schools Division of Davao del Sur. And her passion to train teachers on developmental reading is simply amazing. And from the reports, Dr. Joy has made progress on this.

But Dr. Joy should do more. She should do more to inspire and encourage reading in the grade school level. Not easy, and it takes time but it is worth the effort and the sacrifice. If we want our pupils in the public schools to win the RSPC and NSPC, we should develop in them the love of reading.

Unless we do this among our pupils in the public schools, let us stop hoping to win in NSPC.

No advisers, not even the winningest, can make our pupils win if they don’t read.



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