THE Education Ministry is widening the scope of the Nilam (Nadi Ilmu Amalan Membaca, or loosely translated as reading is the pulse of knowledge) Award to encourage more students in rural areas and special schools to read books.
In addition to the existing categories urban and rural primary and secondary schools, the award will also cover students in remote primary schools as well as hearing- and visually-impaired students in special schools at both primary and secondary levels.
The ministry's Educational Technology Division deputy director (Educational Technology Development) Dr Faridah Mohamed says it wants to ensure all students are given equal access to succeed.
We understand that each school differs in terms of locality, type and size.
This is why we have introduced several categories for the students.
The Nilam Award is a reading programme initiated by the Education Ministry in 1999 to inculcate the reading habit.
We want to encourage students to read a wide selection of books which are not limited to examination purposes only, adds Dr Faridah.
Students are recognised at primary and secondary school levels according to the number of books they have read.
To be awarded the Nilam Award at primary school level, Dr Faridah says students must read 360 books or more, while at secondary school level, they have to read 288 books and above.
Secondary school students read less books as we take into consideration the fact that they have to sit for two examinations, the Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR) and Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM), she adds.
To qualify, students are required to record their reading activities in reading records. In turn, teachers must certify these records.
Recognition is subsequently given to students based on the number of books they have read and reading activities, such as story telling, that they have carried out.
Students have to be evaluated too, as we want an award winner who shines and can inspire others, she says, adding that they are interviewed on what they have read and also on an essay they have written.
Education director-general Datuk Alimuddin Mohd Dom will present prizes to the winners at a ceremony on Thursday .
Previous winners include top SPM students Azali Azlan, who scored 21As last year and Nur Amalina Che Bakri who obtained 17As in 2004.
By KAREN CHAPMAN