With the lack of interest of Afghans in the book and the permanence of reading culture in the country, the previous week of May (14-20) was titled “Week of the Book”. This week, is celebrated and honored around the country by holding exhibitions and broadcasting messages about books and reading books. A specific week is dedicated by Afghan government to the book. Directorate of the Ministry of Information and Culture in its annual report in 2018 published 20 volumes of books, among which one volume of the Yearly state publication, three volumes of Tafser Sharif and two volumes were translation. Hamidullah Shahrani, head of Afghan public libraries, said at a cultural meeting that he has 96 books with 800 thousand volumes of books, but we regret that all of our visitors have been in one of the 12 city centers of Kabul city for a year is not reaching 10 thousand.
The literature of book, reading book and the current state of the book in Afghanistan are among the issues discussed in this analysis.
Book position in human civilization
Since the book on human resources and thoughts reflects the special and creative talents of the human community and ultimately reflects the facts and the point of decline and past successes of nations in the wider limitlessness of the planet, So the special attention is directed to the evolution of the current era values, prosperity of the living and taking an example of the weakness of the decline, So need to be referred to the most valuable gift which is called book.
Whenever we want to evaluate the graph of the level of the intellectual and cultural products of a nation, we will undoubtedly count upon the nation’s books and writings. One of the main indicators for measuring human civilizations has been the production of books and reading books under its shadow. The advanced countries of the world, both in the past and present, have been at the forefront of reading.
According to UNESCO’s facts and figures, between 1991 and 2015. Chinese citizens study an average of 8 hours per week, and literacy rate are 96.4% in China, compared to only 78% in 1990. One of the main reasons for the rapid progress of this country is the high reading rate in the country. Japan’s independence also concurred with the independence of our country (1919), but every Japanese citizen read at least 90 minutes per day and reads about 46 or 47 books a year, a percentage that is not comparable to reading in Afghanistan.
To put it in nutshell that books and reading books play a significant role in the overall development of societies and will not be overstated if the movement and awakening of societies owes to those who know the book and use the book to direct the community and to give people new hope.
Book history in Afghanistan
If look at contemporary Afghanistan, the book is considered to have gone up in the history of Afghanistan, and the Afghan government has drawn contrasts from books of friendship and hatred to the pages of history. For example, the history of Ahmad Shah Abdali, as much as he was interested in Persian poetry and literature, and his children Aisha Dorani and Timur Shah (1773-1797), both poets and still giving the responsibilities to Mahmoud al-Husseini to write a book (Ahmad Shahi’s history) ) Regarding the events of his reign, It shows that the Afghan king was interested in the book.
On the other hand, after the coming of the Barakzai, Amir Dost Mohammad Khan, the founder of the family of this regime, did not have enough literacy and was forgotten the book and culture in this period. But on the contrary, in the 19th century, Amir Sher Ali Khan (1863-1879), Which was influence by the advice of Sayyid Jamal al-Din Afghani, introduced the printing press for the first time in Afghanistan and before that the books of Afghan writers has been printed in India and Bukhara. Which, of course, flourished again during this period. Then, in the early 20th century, with the publication of Typography in Kabul, About the printing and publishing of books. which, at the time of Amir Habibullah Khan (1919-1901), was the book of Siraj al-Tawrikh and Seraj al-Akhbar, one of the most influential publications in his period, So all this has been happened in his time which shows his attention to books and culture of book reading. But after the period of Nader Khan, the repression of books and culture prevailed in the country. The book of Seraj al-Tavarikh was banned and many writers were sent to jail.In the midst of the rule of the Shah and the Decade of Democracy, a better freedom in the field of thought and culture was created and associations and cultural collections were established and writers such as Mir Gholam Mohammad Gobar, Abdolahi Habibi and Ahmad Ali Kahzad wrote and published their most prominent works in this period.In the short period of Dawood khan, book and books reading went so far in the better side, but with the new rule of khalqi in Saw or (May) in 1978 and the imposition of red tape and leftist content, the younger generation deliberately avoided reading.However, the Mujahideen’s regulations made efforts to spread the book and promote the culture of reading books, but due to insecurity and war these attempts did not get anywhere.
Current book situation in Afghanistan
The current state of books and reading in the country with specific references to scientific developments, the evolution of human society in the field of technology and the facilities created in the field of awareness, is not satisfactory. And officials complain about the lack of interest of citizens in the book. Zubair sarwary Administrative Assistant General Library of public, says some students come to the library and change the names and titles of those who ask for fee dissertation (monograph) writing. “He adds:” In General library in the Kabul about 31,000 volumes of books are available. During the 2018 only 1,800 students, most of whom were fourth-year students of university, visited this hall, and some took snapshots of limited pages.
According to a report by the Center, as they interviewed with university students in the Kabul, showed that among 10 students 7 of them during the three or four years of study they only studied their book and chapter of the University which is assigned to them. And the rest three of them have studied one or two books during the period.
On the other hand, Members of parliament, politicians and officials of our government, except for a limited number, unlike other countries which are usually into writing and reading of books, and that is why they failed to publish their research in national and international magazines and journals. Political underrepresentation in these areas could be terrible and critical. Unfortunately, universities and professors who is a role model for the rest, even they are limited to chapters and to the specific books. They failed to motivate others or to motivate their students to get interest in reading of books. So, they should bring the reading culture at least to the universities border.
Government Attention to Book
Since 2001, despite the insecurity and the inclining war in Afghanistan, libraries throughout the country have been established, but the central government has not given much attention to the category, quantity and quality of books in the country. Zubair has mentioned that from many years, the Library don’t have any new books in the areas of economics, politics, law, agriculture, physics and chemistry, and our books do not meet the needs of our clients, and, with repeated requests, unfortunately, the authorities do not hear our voice.
On the other hand, Faizullah Mataaj, the head of one publishing house, complains about the lack of reading culture in the country, claims that the government only provided budget for 25 books per year due to the lack of funds And the lack of selling of books in the market.
The following points need to be considered for the purpose of accelerating culture of book reading in the country:
- The Ministry of Information and Culture has the responsibility to put books and books reading at the forefront of its specialized work, and to give serious support to the authors and publishers of the book.
- Ministry of Information and Culture need to develop strategy and also, they have to separate some amount in its annual budget for development of public libraries and provide a good number of new books to them.
- Ministry of Higher Education, Public universities and private universities should encourage youngsters to read and write innovative initiatives in order to promote the study culture in university environments.
- Parents can play an important role in completing their children’s study time and studying books. Each house should have a small library with the capacity to contain the most important books for the spiritual and professional training of family members.
- Media also have a responsibility to conduct special programs to encourage reading and reading books among the young generation of the nation.