Senator Win Gatchalian is proposing to declare November of every year as the National Reading Month, which will be celebrated with nationwide reading programs.
Gatchalian made this proposal in Senate Bill No. 475 or the National Reading Month Act, which seeks to develop the habit and inculcate a culture of reading in basic education learners and their communities. The National Book Week is also celebrated every last week of November.
Under the proposed measure, the National Library and all congressional, city, and municipal libraries, as well as barangay reading centers are mandated to participate in the month-long celebration. Gatchalian also said that it mandates Public Telecommunications Entities (PTEs) to provide free access to the Department of Education’s (DepEd) online educational platforms, digital libraries, and other online knowledge hubs and sites without any additional financial burden on all subscribers.
The DepEd shall also be mandated to host a book fair in coordination with the National Book Development Board. As the lead coordinating body in conducting activities for the National Reading Month, the DepEd shall maximize public participation from the barangay to the regional levels, which entails engagement of the expertise, services, and resources of the media, book publishers, private libraries, learners’ parents, families, and other stakeholders.
“Ang pagbabasa ay isa sa mga pinakamahalagang pundasyon ng ating mga kabataan na dapat patatagin. Sa pamamagitan ng panukala nating National Reading Month, paiigtingin natin ang pakikilahok ng ating mga komunidad upang isulong ang kultura ng pagbabasa,” said Gatchalian, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education.
The lawmaker also proposes that all purchases of any reading materials, whether in traditional, digital, or audio format, made in the month of November shall be discounted at a rate not lower than 20% of the regular price.
The proposed measure is an intervention on learners’ poor performance as shown in past international standardized assessments, according to Gatchalian. In the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), the average score of 15-year-old Filipino learners in Reading was 340 points, the lowest among the 79 participating countries together with Dominican Republic. Results of the 2018 PISA also showed that 80% of students did not reach a minimum level of proficiency in Reading.