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There's an urgent need of inculcating reading habits among primary school students
The reading habits are on the decline in India. It has been found that a Class V student can't read properly the Class II language textbook. A good majority of students who do well in written examination are also poor readers. The annual study by Pratham NGO has been revealing year after year that low reading skills of primary school students in India are hitting all time low.

Many studies implicate that in primary classes, reading and writing skills should be equally balanced. It has been often suggested that only good reading habits make students perform better in higher studies and make them autonomous learners.

From grades three to five silent reading, loud reading, reading with spoken art components, echo-reading and reading theatre performances should be held. Also, reading and oral testing for about 25 per cent marks should be made compulsory in primary classes.

However, in the mainstream education, no serious effort is being made in primary schools to set aside some time for reading. When the pressure is mounted on the government education system, the patch-work of short-term reading campaigns is undertaken but soon students relapse to their non-reading status.

The overuse of technology in urban areas, use of workbooks in semi-urban areas, emphasis on paper-pencil tests and lecture method of teaching are the culprits, reveal some recent studies despite the fact, it is the reading that enhances the mental horizon of students.

With an excessive use of workbooks, worksheets and work-cards, reading levels of students have suffered badly as was revealed by a recent study by Pratham.

My own experience of compulsory 30-hour reading exercises in group learning mode in primary grades in bridge schools for girls led to their better performance in Class V common examination. There is a need to keep a balance between the mental age, reading age and chronological age of children as a quality index of primary education.

I would like to remind the education system the words of Joseph Addison, who has rightly said, "Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body."

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