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Reading Crisis among Indonesian College Students

Eager to know their real reading practice, I recently conducted an informal conversation focusing on what, how much, and how long they read per week with three students on my campus. Here are their responses.
When asked about their view of the essence of reading, they unanimously agreed that reading is not only important but also crucial in learning. For them, the essence of reading for mastering the course content, enlarging knowledge, building vocabulary, promoting thinking skills, and improving writing skills cannot be replaced by other skills or tools.
When asked what and how much they read, and how long it takes to read it, the first student, majoring in Biology education, stated that she regularly read textbooks and articles assigned by her lecturers. ‘Now I’m taking 5 classes, and each class necessitates me to read at a chapter of the textbook. Sometimes additional texts like articles and lab reports are added. I estimate I read 110 pages per week, and I need about 2 hours every day, five days per week, to finish reading these texts,” She elucidated.
“So you need 10 hours or 600 minutes to read the 110 pages. That means you read a page in 5.5” I added.
“Yes, reading and making notes. While reading, I also make some notes, particularly about the important points,” she replied.
The second student, majoring in the EFL program said, “I’m also taking 5 classes this semester. Totally, I read about 125 pages, consisting of textbook chapters and modules plus some additional reading like scientific, magazine and website articles or a short story each week. I read for 3 hours per day from Monday to Friday. So, more or less, I read them in 15 hours.”
“You read the 125 pages in 15 hours. That means you need 7.2 minutes to read a page. Does it include summarizing or writing a reading response?” I asked her.
"Not really. I do mark some difficult words or underline main points. But summarizing and writing reader responses are excluded from the 15 hours. I read slower than this guy (the students majoring in Biology) because my texts are in English, and her texts are in Indonesian,” she clarified.
The third student, majoring in Mathematics education, he reads about 120 pages a week. I need about 14 hours to read them. That’s equal to 7 minutes per page. But it also includes finishing related math problems assigned by my lecturers.”
When I asked them whether they understand the texts they read quite thoroughly by spending 5.5, 7.2, and 7 minutes to read one page, they predicted, despite their note-taking and marking on the texts, they grasp only about 50 to 60% of the text contents.
Various studies show that average adults read 300 wpm. College students, since they keep on reading, are supposed to read 450 wpm. These students read a textbook page in 6 to 7 minutes. Since the average textbook page contains 800 words, their typical reading speed is 130 words per minute (wpm). This means that these students are included in the category of the slow reader. 
To get more information about the recommended sources they need to read, I proceeded, “Don’t your lecturers also recommend any complementary sources, textbooks, journal articles, magazines, newspapers, and internet media?”
They admitted that they were also expected to read some supplementary sources, but they usually put them aside and focus on the compulsory texts only. “Completing reading the main texts alone have been demanding, how can we deal with the supplementary ones?” one of them accentuated.
So, more or less, how many percents do you think you complete reading both of the compulsory and supplementary assigned texts every week?
“I guess, 40%”, one of them replied.
“To be honest, only 30%”, another one said.
“Yes, between 30 to 40%, I think,” the last student said.
To see whether or not they do independent reading, I added, “Alright. What about reading materials outside of the syllabus? I mean, do you read something for fun?”
Almost simultaneously, the three students replied that every day they read some online news, WhatsApp, Instagram, Tweeter, and email messages. They can spend 1 to 2 hours reading and texting through social media every day. When I proceeded to ask whether they independently read novels or short stories, they replied they rarely read any text if they are not assigned by their lecturers.
To sum up, the conversation reveals that those three students still read very minimum (about 120 pages per week or 20 pages per day) and manage to complete only 30% to 40% of text recommended by their lecturers.  In terms of reading speed, they are categorized as a slow reader. What is more, they never read for pleasure so that they do not read based on self-interest and initiative.
Indeed, these three students do not represent the whole Indonesian college students. However, relating their reading practices with research findings revealing the low rates of reading interest in Indonesia, such as the study of The CentralConnecticut State University (2016) placing Indonesia ranked 60th out of 61 countries in terms of public interest in reading and UNESCO (2012) asserting that only 1 in 1,000 Indonesians read books regularly or for leisure, it is clear that conducting massive concrete corrective actions to fight the reading crisis in Indonesian people, including in college students is very urgent. 

Author: Parlindungan Pardede (


  1. The findings in this article clarified that Indonesian is poor readers. As it is cited, Indonesia ranks 60th out of 61 countries in terms of reading interest (
    Warren Edward Buffett, the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway and one of the most successful investors in the world, suggests that reading is crucial for every individual to succeed. He says, "“Read 500 pages every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.” (
    The citizens' reading performance is also a basis for a nation's economic growth (
    So, one of the best ways to make this nation great is by facilitating the people to be big readers, who can consume 500 pages/day, as suggested by Buffet.

  2. I think college students who haven't developed good reading habits need to learn from the university students in Finland (considered to have the best educational system in the world). University students in this country must be a big reader first because university courses are often built around lectures and assigned readings, and many exams are based on either or both. Thus, students can choose to attend lectures and pass an exam based on these lectures, or takes an exam on required reading materials (without attending lectures), which are considered equivalent to the lectures.

  3. According to me that is right if Indonesian students are lazy to reading. Because of laziness we can say that they are got reading crisis. I think I was one of them that got slow reader. If I read , I also did the same thing as the 3 students above I did some notes. I realized that I just focus one source if I read something without search any source more. But , from one source I can develop what I got in that source. Actually, I love to reading ,I also read a novel or comic book. If I read novel or comic book I usually take some word that interest and then developed it to one sentence until two sentences and upload it in my social media 😁.

    " If you read you'll find some word that can make you want to write " 😉

  4. I think that Indonesian student interest in reading which is really low is a fact that we can't covered. From my experience, I think this happened because most of Indonesians are never taught that reading is something interesting and never taught to make it became their habits since they were a kid. When I was in elementary school, I remembered that our school started to have our own library was when I was in class five. That means all children before me never read any books except their coursebook. And even in my era where our library first built, we're also never taught to read, to make reading as our habit. We never had special time to spend it on reading books, that's why we're seldom to visit our library. Whereas teaching to make reading as habit since childhood is a very important thing to do. So, children will think that reading is really important and they'll start to keep reading till they became an adult. By so reading will became their habit.

  5. It is undeniable that Indonesia's reading crisis. The lack of interest in reading and the lack of initiative is one of the reasons Indonesia experiences a reading crisis.
    I also acknowledge and realize my reading interest is very low, and make me a slow reader, even though I know the essence of reading. But, just knowing the essence of reading was not enough, as was the case with the three students, there should be an initiative and a 'thirst for knowledge' so that the practice of reading can be realized.
    I also agree with this article, the thing we need to ask is to find out to what extent we know the actual reading practice, what is read, how much, and how long.

  6. in my opinion, it is true that Indonesian people have a low interest in reading. That happens because there is no habituation since childhood. I thought I was a slow reader, beacuse I rarely read a book. In my experience when I was in elementary, junior, and high school there was no special time. Goverment must have to make a little coercion, because the initiative for reading in Indonesia is very low. Start from coercion will become habit for icrease the reading interest.

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. This article is good and interesting to me. A student who have a low interest in reading will be a slow reader, like me. The lack of interest in reading make me a slow reader. I remembered the words of my lecturer '' if you want be agood writer, you must be a good reader''. Remembered it, I make a reading schedule a long two hours/ day. I start from read a short story and novel. After that, I write the words that I don't know into my notebooks. Tomorrow I write again the words that I have write before into my notebooks that different while make a summarized about story in my wattpad. My reading habits that I do just a long three months. After that, I never do my reading habits . I just read when I'm bored or working an assigment not everyday. Therefore, until now I'm still a slow reader.

  9. I think that is right that Indonesian students have reading crisis. Because in this era, many students only read to do their assignments and some read because the reading is interesting if it's not interesting they won't read. Like me, I can spend one novel only three days because the novel is interesting and I will make a note from what I read, if I don't have any interesting book or novel I just reading from applications in my phone like I reading some news from Instagram or twitter and I will not read because actually I am lazy to read. That's why Indonesian students have reading crisis, because they don't have the will to read diligently. I hope that I become more diligent in reading because reading is the key to increasing knowledge.

  10. I think, it is very true because Indonesian students today have a crisis in reading because in this era there are many applications that make people lazy to read. And also someone who will look for something for example looking for material is not reading a book to find it but searching on the internet is all there is without reading a book first. Indonesian students are also more interested in reading interesting things, for example when reading such as novels, comics, etc. I hope I and others will increase their willingness to read or take a little time to read, so that we can know knowledge that we did not know before.

  11. In my opinion, the statement in this article is true. At present Indonesia ranks lowest in reading interest, including me too. To foster interest in reading is indeed not easy. however, this has become a necessity for students.
    I am one of them, where I read some news online every day, WhatsApp, Instagram, Tweeter, and e-mail messages. They can spend 1 to 2 hours reading and sending SMS via social media every day.
    According to me, reading will be more comfortable doing by doing it than having to read a book.

  12. I think now thats true situation because so mny students in Indonesia doenst like to read..


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