Tomorrow’s leaders need to know literature, says laureate

National laureate Dr Siti Zainon Ismail.

KUALA LUMPUR: Schoolchildren must be allowed more access to literary material in an effort to cultivate a love of literature among the young, says national laureate Dr Siti Zainon Ismail.

Siti Zainon said pupils have not had enough exposure to local literature which she said was an important source of information in developing future leaders.

“The leaders of tomorrow must know what literature is all about and be more aware of its beauty, moral truth and aesthetic excellence,” she said.

“These literary works are for the nation and people to understand and appreciate, Though they maybe ancient, much can be learned from classical literature.”

Siti Zainon was named the national literature laureate early this month, the second woman to receive the national award after Dr Zurinah Hassan

Since 1985, she has written more than 20 books on culture and cultural studies, which are widely used as reference material. Among her literary works are Rekabentuk Kraftangan Melayu Tradisi (1986), Percikan Seni (1989), Alam Puisi (1990), and Kasih Bonda dan Kampung Paya Kam (2008) all published by Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka .

Born in Kuala Lumpur on Dec 18, 1949, Siti Zainon went to Sekolah Aminuddin Baki, Kuala Lumpur, and furthered her studies at Akademi Seni Rupa, Indonesia, where she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.