Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

The joy of reading can be encouraged to flourish

Teenagers feel that reading a book is a boring chore rather than a joy in its own right. Butt students can be motivated to read.

Every three years, the Pisa tests result in red faces or beaming smiles. The Programme for International Student Assessment conducts standardised tests in reading comprehension, maths and science to half a million 15-year-olds in 65 countries.

The beaming smiles this year belong to the students of Shanghai, who scored top honours across the board. The red faces appeared in the UK and the US, whose students were badly outclassed by Finland, Singapore and Hong Kong. The mediocre American scores prompted one education official to utter that hoary phrase "a wake-up call". The British schools minister lamented that 40 per cent of British students never read for enjoyment.

As reported yesterday, the Pisa scores racked up by 5,620 students in 134 public and private schools in Dubai were nothing to boast about: 43rd in reading, 41st in science and maths.

Local educational officials complained about the lack of a reading culture. Teenagers feel that reading a book is a boring chore rather than a joy in its own right. But a campaign two years ago, The Million Book Challenge, showed that students can be motivated to read. The philanthropic group Dubai Cares promised to donate one book to poor students in Africa and Asia for every book the Dubai students read in one month. Final score? 1,323,218.

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

On our sixth birthday, today’s news told visually

Today in print, we are doing something different: we use only photos, graphics, illustrations and headlines to capture the news in a one-off collector’s edition.

 Rolling out the structure for the set. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National

Star Wars: Episode VII evidence in Abu Dhabi desert

After more than a week of speculation, The National has what are believed to be the first photos of a Star Wars shoot in the Abu Dhabi desert.

 Children walk past an Indian voter awareness mural in Mumbai ahead of the sixth phase of India’s national elections. Indranil Mukherjee / AFP

Inside India: Election, Promoting the Vote

A view of news and daily life on the Indian subcontinent for the week of April 10, 2014.

 INVERNESS, SCOTLAND - APRIL 16:  A general view of Urquhart Castle, Drumnadrochit on April 16, 2014 in Scotland. A referendum on whether Scotland should be an independent country will take place on September 18, 2014.  (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Map of seperatist movements around the world

The conflict in Ukraine is a classic example of competing aspirations and identities – here’s a look at seperatist movements around the world.

 Hassan Abdullah, who goes by the name Abu Mahmoud, an Emirati fisherman, poses for a portrait at the Al Rughayalat Port. Abu Mahmoud was born and raised in Fujairah city and has been working as a fisherman since 1968. “I’m a shark man”, he says, “I was born in the sea.” Silvia Razgova / The National

In pictures: Fishing communities in the Northern Emirates

Fishermen in Fujairah and Umm Al Qaiwain worry that new regulations to protect fish stocks are harming their trade. We look at both communities through the lens of our photographers.

 The cast of Fast & Furious 7, including Michelle Rodriguez and Vin Diesel, centre, on set at Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

Fast & Furious 7 filming in full swing at Emirates Palace

Filming for Fast & Furious 7 has started and we have the first photos of the cast and crew on set at Emirates Palace hotel this morning. Visitors staying at Emirates Palace say they have been kept away from certain areas in the grounds.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National