24 | JUL | 2019
Mexican government introduces National Reading Strategy
Mexico ranks 107th among all 108 countries included in UNESCO’s readership index - Photo: Lucía Godínez/EL UNIVERSAL

Mexican government introduces National Reading Strategy

29/01/2019
16:13
Misael Zavala
Mexico City
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The government will force publishing industries to lower their book prices and promote reading in public schools

In the Magical Village of Mocolito, also called the Athens of Sinaloa, the Federal Government launched its National Reading Strategy, through which it will seek to promote reading by “forcing” Mexico’s publishing industries to lower their prices so that books are more accessible to the public and that there be at least five books in every household.

In company of his wife, Dr. Beatriz Gutiérrez Müller, as well as the managing director of the Fondo de Cultura Económica publishing house (FCE), Paco Ignacio Taibo II, and state officials, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador held a demonstration to launch his plan to promote reading in Mexico.

He explained that his wife had suggested to present the plan in Mocorito. The initiative is aimed at promoting cultural, moral, and spiritual values among the Mexican people.

The strategy has three main axes: The Ministry of Education will be in charge of enhancing readership among children and adolescents, the FCE publishing house will work to improve the accessibility of books, and finally, the Presidency’s communications department will be in charge of launching media campaigns for the promotion of the strategy.

“No more expensive books”

When presenting the plan, Taibo II explained that book prices would be reduced, arguing that most people in the country didn’t read because books were expensive. Furthermore, the government will request Mexico’s Post Office to lower book transportation costs while the Housing Institute (INVI) will be presented with a plan to build houses with libraries and spaces for at least five volumes.

“We will not force them to read, there will be no ‘you have to read’ campaigns. No, no; we will simply open the door for millions of Mexicans to have access to books,” he expressed.

Mexico ranks 107th among all 108 countries included in UNESCO’s readership index. “We don’t read because books are very expensive. We will work to change this by making books extremely cheap. We’ll basically be giving books away,” Taibo stressed, adding that they would try to make publishing houses lower their prices as well.

He claimed that they would force the publishing industry to lower their prices through co-publishing and replacing imports. Furthermore, the government will create a network of 130 Educal and FCE bookstores throughout the country, as well as a book collection called Viento del Pueblo (Wind of the People), in which each book will be sold at around MXN$10.

The national project will also aim to change the way reading is taught at school by creating reading clubs and making teachers invite students to read for pleasure “without fear or censorship.”

“There are some problems that we need to solve. We need to forget our fear of entering a bookshop. At times it would seem that a bookshop is a strange place where they ask you what you want and you really don’t know what to say, where people are judged by their appearance and purchasing power,” he stated.

According to Taibo II, the new government’s challenge will be to build a republic of readers. “We need to break this cultural fear. Our education system is creating vaccines against readership. They tell you things like: ‘You need to read seven books this week, you need to write a summary.’ And thus, people don’t read like they’re supposed to, they read photocopies, loose chapters, and are left with the toxic feeling that reading is boring. Our formal education system needs to promote an entirely different reading process and reinforce reading comprehension.”

The head of the FCE claimed that where there is a will, there is a way. “New winds are blowing. The winds of true democracy. These winds will sweep away ignorance and books will be like bullets in this liberating process,” he commented.

A vehicle for peace

Dr. Beatriz Gutiérrez Müller, wife of President López Obrador, stated that reading was a vehicle for peace. “When people are reading, they are not punching, kicking, or hurting others.”

Though Gutiérrez Müller asked attendants to read as much as they could, she also acknowledged that there were thousands of readers who were unable of reading a book. “This is sometimes due to the fact that the books are unavailable or expensive.” “Read everything you can get your hands on: Novels, poetry, essays, stories, newspapers, textbooks, and anything." 

"Books are our friends, our accomplices. Go to libraries, learn, cultivate your inner selves, read everything you can in your lives, and don’t stop reading,” she stated.

She added that books can help us become better people. “Reading awakes consciousness and imagination, it invites us to think and feel, it can give us joy and bring us to tears.”
 

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