Reading has been defined as the ability to obtain meaning from words (Ogugua et al, 2015). Reading according to Hornby (2000) means, to look at and understand the meaning of written or printed words or symbols. Reading is undoubtedly a unique human activity that is characterized by the translation of symbols or letters into words and sentences that communicate information and mean something to the reader.
On the other hand, reading culture refers to habitual and regular reading of books and information materials (Ogugua et at, 2015). According to Gbadamosi (2007), reading culture evolves when an individual habitually and regularly reads books and other information materials that are not necessarily required for him to advance in his profession or career.
There has been an emerging culture in the education sector in Nigeria; the culture of non-reading. The culture has hampered educational growth and the country’s development and has posed a serious concern to all and sundry. Many public affairs analysts and educationists are pointing fingers at poor reading environment, lack of reading books, poverty (bad economy) and corruption, inadequate or non-existing libraries and paying attention to frivolities; being the agents of dying reading culture.
Nigeria, according to Aljazirah Nigeria Newspaper, has been rated by the World Culture Score Index as one of the countries with the lowest reading culture in the world. Similarly, from the National Commission for Mass Literacy, Adult and Non-Formal Education available statistics shows that 38% of Nigerians are non-literate as four in ten primary school children cannot read for comprehension.
In recent time, the sharp decline in reading has been so alarming and it is mostly attributed to new technological innovations in communication, which has diverted attention of, especially the young ones. There is a saying that if you want to hide something from a Nigerian, put it in a book. This cannot be truer than now as Nigerian youths no longer spend time in reading; social media is a major factor. Youths focus more on chatting, watching movies and reality shows than reading. These factors necessitated us to embark on a research in order to come up with measures to be put in place to revive the dying reading culture. They include but not limited to the following:
Creation of Library Period in School Timetable
Without doubt, the presence of well equipped and standard library has a way of encouraging or promoting reading culture. This will, in no little measure, reignite or cultivate reading culture, by being habitually exposed to reading. To start with, most of our schools do not have library, those that have are not well equipped. In such appalling situation – that is absence of functional and well equipped libraries – such measure cannot be effectively implemented. For this to take place, stakeholders such as government, teachers and PTA must show seriousness by playing their roles and coordinate effort to achieve this common goal.
Student having such opportunity where they are exposed to books outside their field or regular subjects they offer in school, will add tremendously in reviving or promoting reading culture in our society. As usual, teachers would be charged with enforcing the policy and measure the level performance for further action.
Creation of Home Library By Parents
Televisions and games gadgets have fast replaced libraries in homes, no thanks to parents who made this possible. Gone are the days where television, game gadgets, cable networks were not invoke; home libraries were what used to keep children busy. Back then, parents were so much interested in ensuring that their children imbibed reading culture, hence the resources they invested in setting up home libraries. If parents can reverse the current trend by going back to the olden days of having home libraries instead of modern gadgets that swerve away the attention of their children from reading, it will enhance the revival of reading culture in our society.
Formation of Reading Club in Schools
For rapid revival or resuscitation of dying reading culture to occur in Nigeria, reading club must be formed in all levels or strata of schooling system, especially at the secondary school level. I can remember during my secondary school day, I got to know the importance of reading through reading club I belonged to. Being a member of such a club was motivational and challenging at the same time; tasks of reading books was the order of the day with target or time frame. Another prominent feature of the club I could remember was the reading challenge which tremendously built in the members reading skills as well as broadening our horizons.
For this to be effectively implemented, I recommend this responsibility be shouldered by National Youth service corps (NYSC) members, who are posted to mostly schools nationwide, with strong supervision by the school management and Local Inspectors (LIs). It is believed that Corps members are agents of national development and with less stressful school work, they will have ample time to organize and coordinate such clubs that will bring about national revival in reading culture.
Promotion of Book Fair
According to your dictionary.com, book fair is defined as “A public event at which books are sold, often featuring appearances of authors.” It is also viewed as a public display or exhibition of books typically by a group of publishers or book dealers for sales promotion and also to stimulate interest. Book fair, no doubt, is an important initiative for the revival of the dying reading culture in the country. Though the private sector should be the main driver of this wonderful initiative, the government, schools, guardians and NGOs have prominent roles to play by giving the necessary push and support as well as creating an enabling environment for it to thrive. When this is effectively encouraged, the interest in reading will highly stimulated and it will result to resuscitation of reading culture, as books will be made available and at a cheaper cost to readers.
Creation of Scholarship Programmes to Encourage Readers
Creating scholarship programmes to encourage reading is an effective scheme to bring alive or cultivate the reading culture that is lacking in our society today. This is an effort that should be carried out by governments, private organizations and public spirited individuals who are well to do and enthusiastic about reading. Just the way we have sponsorship in science education and specifically, mathematic, such organization should also focus on reading entirely. Any society that is not reading is not developing – it dying, just like human being.
Elsewhere, scholarship programmes for readers or bookworm abound such as National Shakespeare Competition, Hooked to Books Scholarship, Mary Shelley & HWA Scholarship, Signet Classic Student Scholarship Essay Contest, etc. To the best of my knowledge, such scholarship programmes are not in existence in Nigeria. I hereby call on governments, private organizations and well to do public spirited individuals to replicate such initiative in Nigeria. Without doubt, it will go a long way in reviving the dying reading culture in Nigeria.
Making Literature in English a Compulsory Subject in Primary & Juniour Secondary Schools
A concrete reading foundation is best laid in primary and secondary schools for children to grow up with. Creating such culture for them at such tender age will enable them express it when they are grown up. Literature in English generally is concerned with reading, reviewing and analyzing books. Being exposed to books and reading early in life helps cultivate a solid reading culture. Despite the dying reading culture, Literature students are known to be devoted readers today. This is because, overtime, the interest in reading has been formed and sustained such that it becomes part and parcel of them. Therefore, when such interest is laid and stimulated among the young ones to grow up with, it will go a long way in resuscitating the dying reading culture in our society.
Establishing/Equipping Standard Library in Schools and Other Designated Points
For this to be achieved, all hands must be on desk. Government must take education funding very seriously. Budgetary allocation for education is always very low from all levels of governments. It can be authoritatively stated that poor state of libraries or its non existence is one of the reasons Nigeria is experiencing decline in of reading culture. Most schools in the country do not have standard and well-equipped libraries while others do not have at all. As the case should be, towns and cities are supposed to have standard and well equipped libraries at designated points in line with 21st century town planning best practices.Lack of these educational infrastructures has considerably contributed to the dwindling or dying reading culture in Nigeria.
Therefore, as a measure of resuscitating the dying reading culture, standard libraries must be established in schools and other designated points to encourage citizens and students to read which will provide access to conducive environment and quality books.
Eradicating Examination Malpractice
Incontrovertibly, increase in examination malpractice is one of the causes of dying reading culture in Nigeria. Lack of reading reduces the confidence of students during examination. The importance of reading cannot be over-emphasized in the man’s life, as it broadens imagination and enhances one’s creativity. Aside developing the mind, reading also expands and enhances memory as well as improving focus and concentration. When the above mentioned are not in place, the confidence of students during examination is cultivated and therefore help in reducing examination malpractice.
For examination malpractice to reduce or completely eradicated, effort of the critical stakeholders must be well coordinated. Aside the government and school management, which include the teachers, guardians must fully pledge their readiness and full support towards its complete eradication. Parents/guardians have greater responsibility, for the vice is majorly encouraged by them. In Nigeria today, parents/guardians are the ones promoting examination malpractice most by providing their wards money for sorting.