THE youth today has access to almost anything electronic such that old habits like playing street games or even reading have almost gone extinct.

Even when reading efficiency tests and exercises are required in various schools, many Filipino students across the country still fail in reading exercises.

Mrs. Luzviminda Ladublan, a faculty of Roman C. Acharon Elementary School at Calumpang, General Santos City, said there are three categories of readers in grade school.

"Some students can read but lack comprehension, these students are in the instructional level. The other one is the frustration level, where the students are slow readers and have no comprehension at all, and then the independent reader who can read on average speed to fast and has good comprehension," she said.

This was also reflected in Department of Education's Philippine Informal Reading Inventory (Phil-IRI) where the level of comprehension of students are measured and monitored. The frustration, instructional, independent levels are being monitored yearly through a conduct of pretest and posttest in both English and Filipino. A non-reader category is also monitored to determine if there are students who cannot read at all.

Mrs. Labudian says lack of books and the standard of living of parents have an impact on the child's reading ability.

To address this problem, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo directed the Department of Education in 2007 ordered Education Secretary Jesli A. Lapus to focus on schools that registered low mean percentages in reading and comprehension.

In their school, Mrs. Ladublan said they have established methods to improve reading among their students through remedial classes, tutorial, provision of reading materials, even provide them with songs, poems, verses, and similar works, and introducing them to new vocabularies and explaining the meanings and how to use words in a sentence.

Through these methods, she said, their Grade Six students who took the National Educational, Testing and Research Center exams improved their English scores by 6.73 percent, in the same year the programs were implemented.

By December 2009, Region 11 reported an 11.69 percent increase in NAT English category in elementary and 8.47 percent increase in secondary scores from school year 2006 to 2009.

Although the numbers seem high, the progress that has been made is still not sufficient.

The technology that provides these modern students comfort and easy access to almost anything, especially information about school projects and assignments, makes the students lose one of the basic habits -- reading.

As technology progresses, more and more children lack the patience to search for a book in a library or even read their textbooks. The point, click, copy and paste features of a computer is more favored than the manual browsing through books and hand writing the information needed.

Department of Psychology at Pacific Lutheran University estimates that improving the reading efficiency of students would contribute by .05 percent to improving the student's grades or over-all GPA.

This resulted from an exploratory research in an attempt to determine whether or not there is a significant increase in reading efficiency is accompanied by a significant increase in over-all GPA.

In August 2009, a global direct-selling company invested on an educational campaign named "One-by-One Campaign for Children" which intends to perk and maintain students' interest in reading.

Although actions are made to address this recurring problem, the technology the generation has to offer is a continuous enemy in the attempt to retain students' interest in books. Because after all who would prefer carrying heavy books and leafing through its pages over simply typing key words and pasting it in one click.

Modern technology helps a lot in today's educational system but it also has an alarming effect on the reading habits and efficiency of the youth today.

Not only does it make students lazy and unimaginative, it also hinders them from enhancing one of the basic skills that they have to learn.

Reading is a very important part of the learning process and if the diminishing efficiency for this skill continues, the country can yet hit another illiteracy dilemma. (Patricia Subido and Jannica Marie Lipang/Ateneo de Davao University)