Many read for pleasure,some for knowledge, most for utilitarian value. Plainly speaking, asides reading prescribed texts,very few make an effort to pick a book outside their specialisation,since their reason for reading is to gain a meal ticket, to make money at all cost or even just to pass an examination.
Unfortunately, most no longer read even to pass examinations. With the development of chips, why take the tedious route of gluing two elbows on a desk? Cheating in examinations has undergone tremendous evolution in Nigeria’s educational system. From the age old spying or giraffing, students, with the connivance of their parents and teachers, have taken examination misconducts to digital proportion. This malpractice is almost equated with charity (act of love). Little wonder it “has been baptised with esoteric aliases like symbiosis, dubbing, help, memory backup, missiles, xeroxing, etc.”
Digging deeper, though students may not be fully exonerated, it is a pointer to the erosion of a once vibrant reading culture in the country. Gone are the days when students took pride in bragging about the latest pacesetter, Mills and Boon or African Writers Series novels they have read. The greatest gifts used to be books, now try that with a teenager and you’ll get the worst shock of your life.
Kindly spare me the notion that books are expensive. Sure right they are, but can you compare it with the cost of recharge cards or junk food. “Now we have the luxury of seeking all shades of an issue, we work harder, we report deeper, but even the deeper you go about it, the more you are losing your readers to the tribe that seeks that pleasure of a roaming GSM,” laments Onome Osifo-Whiskey of TELL magazine.
It is obvious that for any culture to take root, it must have been preceded by a habit. No one is born reading, we all acquire the taste for books over time. For many avid readers, the origin of their romance with books started at a very tender age. It was either at school or in the home that their interest in books was nurtured, developed and blossomed.
If children, especially at a very tender age, come to associate reading with fun, then the habit sticks with them to adulthood. Unfortunately, most teachers are simply the catalyst that snuffs out the reading flames… Teachers hold the magic wand to get their pupils hooked on to books. The passion from a teacher in love with books is contagious and students easily get infected. Some teachers however, make kids see reading as a bitter medicine or a punishment. With that attitude, most burn their books as soon as they leave school.
Parents, being the principal educators of their children, cannot pretend that sending their children to school will necessarily morph their kids into bookworms. Buy books, encourage them to read newspapers, magazines, religious books and other literature. I see no reason why a child should waste time counting the number of tiles in the rest room rather than read a book.
The effect of a shallow reading culture haunts an individual all through life. Some university graduates find it gruesome to speak or write proper English. The seeds sown earlier in their homes and schools follow them to their graves. Safiya I. Dantiye captures it in these words, “I used to believe that teachers take pride in impacting knowledge and seeing their students competing to do their best, so I wonder what those types of teachers feel when all their students perform poorly, because it could not be the fault of all the students”
If reading is that easy to imbibe, then why are we reading less? Though I must admit that in this country the easiest things are sometimes the most difficult. I concur with Hillary Ike Ugwu that “parents should learn to expose their children to reading”. In so doing, they are shaping their little minds towards greatness. Professors and teachers shoild expose their students to disciplined culture of reading and research.
Let’s all conquer the common saying that if you desire to keep anything away from a Nigerian, hide it in a book!