I wonder how many of you out there knows what NILAM is. Not the precious stone type but the one pertaining to education in this country. Actually NILAM is an acronym for Nadi ILmu Amalan Membaca. It is a reading programme to improve the reading habit among the schoolchildren. I was made to understand that the programme has been going on for 10 years. The programme is categorized into several categories, viz: Primary Schools (Urban and Rural), Secondary Schools (Urban and Rural) among the states in the country. For the last seven years prizes were awarded to the winners. The latest report noted that on average our primary schoolchildren read 20 books a year and their secondary siblings read on average 10 books. Apparently our youngsters read less and less books as they grow up.
This year’s winner had a special significant. It was the first time the prizes were given away by the Deputy Prime Minister during the opening of the KL International Book Fair. The event was held on the 20th March at PWTC.
The programme has improved over the years. In its early days winners were decided simply on the basis of the number of books that they read and verified by their principals/head teachers. But these days the selection is more rigorous with interviews, participative events, external evaluations. One thing I notice most of the winners did well in their public examinations. There is a clear correlation between the winners and their academic performance. One clear case is Amalina Che Bakri, the famous girl who scored straight As in SPM a few years ago was a NILAM winner.

One of the NILAM winner 2010


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