In an effort to increase the extremely low reading levels of the general population by promoting reading among schoolchildren, the Education Secretariat has announced a 50% increase in the budget for school libraries for the next school year.
Mexicans read on average 2.94 books each year, which puts Mexico second to last on a list of 107 countries, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO.
With decreasing attendance numbers at public libraries and an ever-shrinking number of readers, specifically children, the situation becomes more worrying.
According to the last national reading census conducted 10 years ago by INEGI, the National Institute of Statistics and Geography, only 16% of the population read for six hours or more per week, while close to a third read for just two hours or less.
Through the same census it was found that 54% hadn’t bought a book in the last year, while only 10% reported having bought six books or more.
Data obtained through a National Reading Survey in 2012 indicated the number of readers in Mexico decreased by 10% between 2006 and 2012, implying that over half of Mexicans don’t read books.
For federal Deputy Fernando Uriarte Zazueta, reading is an irreplaceable activity that “helps develop productive children, teenagers and adults, no matter what format they’re reading in. This is why state policy should promote this activity, as in the end the people will benefit.”
Such promotion should consist of specific programs that encourage the habit of reading and at the same time encourage parents and teachers to promote it, he said.
The deputy’s sentiment was echoed by Education Secretary Aurelio Nuño, who yesterday announced an increase in the allocation for books. The 2015-2016 allocation of 200 million pesos (US $11.63 million) for books for school libraries will double next year.
The investment, said Nuño, will represent an increase of 4 million in the number of books distributed by the Education Secretariat, bringing the total to 10 million.