By Ritkimwa Istifanus
A reading society is a knowledge-based society, and by extension a developed society. The poor reading culture among primary and secondary school students in Nigeria has reached an alarming state and needs to be urgently addressed before it gets out of hand. This article analyzes the practical causes of poor reading culture among primary and secondary students in Nigeria and the way forward.
It has been discovered that some of the causes of poor reading culture include, a defective education system, lack of functional libraries in schools and low patronage by the students where the libraries are even available.
It’s therefore not surprising that Nigeria has the highest number of children who have dropped out of school among the 20 million children who were out of school worldwide in 2017 (International Journal of Technology and inclusive Education). It is quite sad to see secondary school students who cannot read simple sentences. There are some students in the universities, polytechnics and colleges of education who cannot also read fluently. If one cannot read, how can one understand what one is reading? It takes a good reader to assimilate.
The negative effect of a poor reading culture is enormous. Poor reading culture has negative effects on the society and also the individual. At the societal level, it creates knowledge gap and retards development. A society with a poor reading culture is bound to have leadership crisis because of a dearth of knowledgeable leaders. At the individual level, poor reading culture impedes personal development and success in life. It has destroyed a lot of people because they have failed to read and understand instructions and warnings, and it is also a reason why some students are not performing well academically in school today.
The difference between the rich and poor is knowledge and its rightful application. Reading culture widens the gap between ignorance and knowledge in the society.
According to Online Dictionary Wikipedia, reading is defined as “a complex process of decoding symbols in order to construct or derive meaning”. Different people read for different reasons. Some read to pass examinations while some people read to acquire knowledge. Some for self-improvement while others read for pleasure and relaxation. Reading is a skill which must be consciously developed and nurtured. One needs to read until words become one’s friend. The more one reads, the more one’s reading skills develops. Additionally reading improves one’s spoken language, it enables a person learn every part of a language like vocabulary, sentence structure and grammar. ”To develop a reading culture is about reading habitually”.
POSSIBLE CAUSES OF POOR READING CULTURE IN NIGERIA
A Defective Education System– The Nigeria’s education system does not prioritize reading for general acquisition of knowledge rather it prioritizes reading for passing examinations. Most students read to pass examination. Some students have even resorted to cramming in order to pass examinations. To make matters worse, some teachers want their students to write verbatim in examination. This is a wrong approach to reading and does not help one or a society to develop.
The implication is that the students will pass the exams very well but the knowledge is not there, because a few minutes after exams they can’t answer same question.
Libraries- Some actually have a building that is labelled “library” but without books and library personnel. Some libraries are stocked with outdated books or reading materials. Most students do not go to libraries these days to read or do their assignments. Some go there to write or copy notes, which ordinarily should not be the main reason.
Poor quality teachers – This is quite pathetic considering the fact that to a large extent, the quality of the teachers determines the quality of the students. Teachers are role models to their students, if teachers cannot read fluently how can the students?
Poverty – Poverty is also responsible for the prevailing poor reading culture in Nigeria. Developing a reading culture is more than buying and reading just a book, and reading repeatedly. It costs a lot of money to buy books. Some parent cannot afford school fees, let alone buying books for their children to read.
Where one does not have books to read, developing a reading culture becomes difficult. Some therefore make the decision to indulge in examination mal-practice as the only way.
SUGGESTIONS THAT COULD HELP PROMOTE A GOOD READING CULTURE IN NIGERIA.
There are many possible ways that could help to settle a strong reading culture in Nigeria. Various stakeholders can also help in this regard; the government, parent, the educational institutions and the student.
The Government– Government at all levels should promote a good reading culture by establishing standard public libraries because not everybody has access to school libraries. In most cases, school libraries are highly restricted to students. Also, not all schools have functional libraries. Therefore, the establishment of public libraries will help those who are not in school and students whose schools do not have functional libraries.
Qualified teachers – government should employ qualified teachers to teach. If those who are not well educated are certified and employ this will not give the desired result for the future, government can also organize workshop, and trainings for it teachers.
Schools– School should make it compulsory for students to go to the library to do some readings or assignment. Schools should create a reading hour on the timetable, organize reading competitions, and especially inter-school competitions.
Parents- Parents needs to encourage their children to develop a positive attitude toward reading. To this end, parents should include in their budget reading materials for their children.
The students- Students must prioritize reading by developing a positive attitude towards it. They should see reading as natural as play, make it a hobby, and devote their time to reading good books.
All hands must be on deck for a good reading culture to be promoted among Nigerian students. The Parents, the students, the teachers and the Government must play their roles in ensuring that this is done. The students must not be lazy; they must be ready to read at all times.
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