Improve On Reading Culture

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The Oxford Advanced
Learners Dictionary has defined the word ‘read’ as to ‘look and comprehend the meaning of written or printed words. Reading, therefore, is the act of comprehending a written or printed material which by extension is the acquisition of knowledge of the said material.
Particularly in the formal education process, reading is paramount. In today’s world however, reading is not limited to formal education but also the informal and this is due largely to civilization and technology.
While some could read fluently, they have little or no ability to comprehend and some others could even barely read. Through levels of understanding and assimilation vary, it is an established fact that a conscious zeal and constant effort into reading is bound to yield a positive result as it is said “practice make perfect’ and ‘determination is successes.
Unfortunately, recent research has shown that a higher percentage of students/scholars lack the zeal of reading while others have a low capacity of assimilation which is the near absence of reading.
Situations abound where students in their examination halls both at the primary, secondary and tertiary institutions could not read the questions properly much more to understand them.
More disheartening is the resort to Information and Communication Technology (ICT) gadgets where these students trade their time of reading for roaming and chatting via the social networks.
At the 32nd Matriculation ceremony of the Rivers State University of Science and Technology (RSUST), held in January this year, the vice Chancellor of the institution, Prof Barineme Bekae Fakae revealed that the institution expelled 588 students for poor performance. The root cause I guess was the absence of reading habit among those students.
Fakae also stated that out of the over 110,000 students that applied through the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) and went through the University Matriculation Examination (UME), only 2,955 candidates were found worthy to be admitted within the National University Commission (UNC) approved carrying capacity.
The alarming rate of failures in recent examinations in WAEC, JAMB, GCE, UTME including internal examinations is courtesy of the non-reading habits of these students. The failure is not just in an arithmetic progression but in geometric progression as evident in the recently released results of the 2014 May/June Senior School Certificate Examinations (SSCE) by the West African Examination Council (WAEC) which in comparison, with recent past years, the Head of WAEC, Charles Eguridu described as ‘a poor performance in the overall percentage’.
This, of course, has left me with the fears of a better tomorrow as far as the education sector is concerned.
It was the decay in the reading culture of today’s students that challenged the United Bank for Africa (UBA) in one of its recent programmes to donate over 140 copies of Things Fall Apart’, a renowned novel by Chinue Achebe to students of Brian Field Secondary School in Obio/Akpor Local government area of Rivers State.
In fact, the dearth of reading culture has resulted to illiteracy, a bane of self-security  and indeed, the root cause of most social vices imminent in the society today. It was also on this premise that the Rivers State Governor, Rt Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, at the maiden convocation of the Rivers State College of Arts and Science (RIVCASS) in April this year said “education has the power to free Nigerians from the shackles of ignorance, disease and poverty” and I wonder how that can be achieved without reading.
In and of himself, the governor thought that the bagging of the World Book capital city for 2014 by Port Harcourt as conferred by the United Nations Educational, scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) was the resultant effect of a reading city- was his thought correct?
The occasion was garnished with readings by popular actors and actresses in the bid to inspire pupils and students with the spirit of reading.
Yes! Port Harcourt and indeed Nigeria is the UNESCO’s World Book Capital but so far, has it got any improvement on the reading habits of its students or people? The answer is an obvious No. And I ask, what is the problem? Could it be the environment, guest for survival that would leave little or  no time for such brainwork or an innate tendency of the modern world?
Reading produces literacy whose absence has the cankerworms of insecurity, superstition, ignorance, poverty among others as revealed by the acting Director, Rivers State Library Board, Elder Lucky O. Welekwe. Thus, in a proper literate society, certain protests (which of course, has taken the centre stage in the Nigerian system) are carried out in a refined manner as opposed to the awkward and malicious form they assume in this country and I fear describing the nation as a near-illiterate nation evident in its approaches to certain developmental issues.
The-cry of most teachers, parents, lecturers and principals are all the same: these students do not read! The question again is, how do they progress in their classes and levels as much as being graduates? Undoubtedly, the issue of class repetition is dead and buried in modern educational system because whether being able to read and write or not, the child or student is promoted and subsequently, successfully excelled in each level of academic pursuit.
This act buttresses the point that malpractice is the order of the day springing up from all sides of sector’s coin. The students would abandon their books for other social activities and at the end of the day receive a tap at the back by teachers on receipt of the students’ brown envelops which indeed, would boost his/her presumed economic background which the government had neglected or ignored.
Yet in the faces of all these, nobody wants to own up to the malady. The truth however, remains that the quest for academic knowledge is gradually fading among students and scholars leaving the ratio to about 2:10 of all students.
Suffice it to say that the damage has been done yet, revival is needful. It is high time all hands be on deck to resuscitate the dead reading culture of our students and people alike not just for the growth and development of these students but the  future of the Nigerian nation. And it all begins with oneself.
Students/Scholars should individually strive to challenging themselves with sincere, self-sacrificing and well-deserved first class results in their various and varied academic pursuits. There should be that self-reawakening and determination to excel, an act that certainly cannot be achieved by a magic calculation but self-discipline.
It all begins with ‘absolute’ reading habit or culture, the very basis of every form of education. Therefore, read and take your position. Acquire skill and make your monumental and developmental contributions to the nation, state and society at large.

 

Lady Godknows Ogbulu