GIS - 25 April 2013: The 11th edition of the Book Festival kicked off this morning at the Bagatelle Mall in the presence of the Minister of Arts and Culture, Mr M. Choonee, the Director of the National Library, Mrs T. K. Ramnauth, and other personalities. The four-day event is organised annually to celebrate World Book and Copyright Day, commemorated on 23 April as proclaimed by UNESCO in 1995.
Speaking on the occasion, the Minister of Arts and Culture stressed the importance of reading books not only to acquire knowledge and information as well as to share and transmit culture but also in building a knowledge and intelligent society. Mr Choonee highlighted the need to promote a culture for reading among the youth. This, he said, can be achieved through the use of Internet and ICT which offer new opportunities to engage the youth in extensive reading and accessing a variety of knowledge.
Mr Choonee also listed the various endeavours undertaken by the Ministry to develop a culture of reading across the island namely the setting up of some 20 Centres de Lecture et d'Animation Culturelle (CLAC) in Mauritius and Rodrigues. He added that his ministry intends to work in collaboration with the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie for the setting up of mini-CLAC in underprivileged areas. Recalling that the city of Bangkok has been designated “World Book Capital 2013” by UNESCO for its outstanding efforts in promoting reading, Mr Choonee stated that it was up to local stakeholders and each and everyone to work towards making Mauritius a good contender to obtain the designation in the near future.
The Minister also proposed that the Corporate Social Responsibility Scheme, a process by which private enterprises fully meet their social responsibility, be extended to include a cultural dimension geared towards publishing and promoting talented local writers. According to the Minister, though platforms have been created to encourage the printing and publishing of books of local writers namely through short story writing competitions and the President’s Fund for Creative Writing, there is a need to review the funding mechanism for local writers.
Commending the organisers of the cultural event, the Minister urged them to work with the ‘Culture & Avenir Unit’ of the Prime Minister’s Office who organised the International Book Fair Confluences 2013 held in March 2013, with a view to hold a single major prestigious book event. The initiative, said Minister Choonee, will enable Mauritians to get the best out of not only local publishing houses but of several foreign publishing houses, international book-related specialists and professionals as well as to meet both local and foreign authors.
The 11th edition of the Book Festival houses more than 20 exhibitors offering a large variety of reading materials at reduced prices. Several educational, literary and cultural activities are scheduled during the four days including launching of books, exhibitions of rare documents, quiz, dictation, drawing and painting competitions, poems recitals, among others.
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