Coordinated by the World Association of Newspapers (WAN), workshops for newspapers and teachers have been held in the city of Barnaul, Siberia; Merak, Indonesia; Bucharest, Romania and Skopje, Macedonia, among others.
WAN's new NiE development project targets developing countries with the aim of introducing and reinforcing the use of newspapers in the classroom to teachers, educators and newspaper publishers.
One country that is working hard in this direction is Indonesia, which has set up NiE Indonesia with the support of its newspaper publishers' association and WAN.
To date, says NiE Indonesia executive-director Kukuh Sanyoto, he has organised three workshops in three cities and is planning for more if funding permits. The workshops have so far received some funds from the Norway-based Norske Skog.
At each workshop the most recent one was held in Bali on July 15 and 16 about 40 teachers, journalists and publishers were invited to learn about the value of using newspapers in the classroom and gain an understanding of global NiE.
The participants also spent both days brainstorming on ways to improve the reading habit among schoolchildren.
At the end of the workshops, we came up with resolutions to improve education and reading in our country. Among the key resolutions are to influence the authorities and for all of us to make certain commitments as stakeholders,'' says Kukuh who is fondly remembered by Indonesians as the weatherman for his stint on local TV as a weather forecast presenter.
Another resolution is to use the newspaper as it is a rich resource of information and teaching material. Says Indonesian Newspaper Publishers Association chairman Mahtum Mastoem, some newspapers have already started introducing relevant reading materials for students and publishing articles written by them.
We are certainly keen to promote the use of newspaper in the classroom as a teaching resource and learn how other countries are doing it,'' adds Mahtum who will be leading a delegation of 15 members from the association to visit newspapers in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore next week.
At the recent workshop in Bali, participants were treated to a glimpse of NiE around the world by Norway's NiE specialist Jan Vincens Steens. They were also given a taste of how every part of the newspaper could be used as teaching material by The Star's Education senior editor Leanne Goh.
Steens shared how newspaper publishers embarked on a range of projects and activities to get students interested in reading and using the newspapers in the classroom. He also conducted a few NiE activities with the teachers.
The Norwegian, who also conducted the first workshop in Merak and the second in Medan, initiated Indonesia's NiE programme by getting the local newspaper association interested in it and helped them to secure funding through WAN.
He has also been instrumental in setting up the Passport project the publication and distribution of booklets of NiE activities given to every student. So far, thousands of copies have been produced for free distribution among pockets of Indonesia's 240 million population.
Participant Dra I.G.A Nurtiniasih, headmistress of a premier Balinese primary school, found the too short workshop eye opening. She says that the recommendations to improve reading among schoolchildren should be implemented as soon as possible by involving all the stakeholders.
As for NiE, she adds that she is convinced that newspapers are a rich source of information and teaching materials and students should not just be using the textbook but also reading the newspapers to widen their horizons.
What I have picked up from the NiE experiences in Malaysia and other countries I can use when I design new programmes for my school, says Nurtiniasih. BY L. GOH
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