Romanians read only 5 minutes a day and more than one-third say they have never read a book.
Studies show the benefits of reading are clear: reduced stress and better personal development, while at a community level reading leads to social and economic progress.
In a bid to reverse the trend of reading less and less, Liberal Party lawmaker Sebastian Burduja has submitted a draft bill that aims to create a National Reading Day on February 15 and also set up a framework to encourage reading nationwide.
The lawmaker cited Eurostat data showing what he called “dramatic” figures. Only 6.2% of Romanians see reading as a pastime and 16% of Romanians dip into a book once per month, he said quoting a survey by the Romanian Institute for Evaluation and Strategy.
Romanians read an average of one book a year, compared to the 16 books that a German reads.
He also pointed to the results of the 2018 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), which found functional illiteracy has increased in the last three years from 39% to 44% among 15 year-olds.
The survey also found that 41% of Romanian students were unable to reach level 2 in reading, which means that they can read a text but can’t explain or understand what the text is about.
“There’s a clear link between reading and the economic and social development of a country. A World Bank study shows that high literacy levels are associated with a healthier population, less crime, and bigger economic growth,” he said according to Economica.net.
“The UN considers education the key to stopping poverty, protecting the planet to ensure peace and prosperity for all people. Studies have shown that reading is a vital ability to succeed in society and to get a better job,” he said.
The date of February 15 was chosen in line with other countries, where national reading days coincide with the birth dates of celebrated writers.
Other days dedicated to reading around the world include the World Read Aloud Day on the first Wednesday of every February. The U.S. celebrates National Read Across America Day on March 2, while in India it is celebrated on June 19.
In Romania’s case, February 15 is the birth date of politician and literary critic Titu Maiorescu who was born in 1840), and Spiru Haret a mathematician and education minister born in 1851 who is credited with being the founder of Romania’s modern education system.
The bill is backed by 24 Liberal lawmakers and a lawmaker from the Save Romania Union.