By Aliyu Muhammad Aliyu
We often ask ourselves the question, “why do we lack reading culture in our contemporary society?” The answers we get are associated with our background and perspective on the issue. To a teacher, knowledge of all fields and disciplines is documented mainly in writing. We explore and acquire it by reading relevant resource materials of our interest for their information. We read enough literature persistently to acquire what is sufficient to be knowledgeable through either the education process or self-learning. To read and continue reading, the reading itself has to be easy, attractive and exciting to the reader. In this way, it becomes second nature and a hobby unwitting.
As a common saying, “the beginning of everything is the most important.” When a child learns how to read and comprehend the information, write what is understood by their readers, and express themselves verbally, effective communication skills manifest, hence reading culture and knowledge acquisition. This marks the beginning of intellectual independence achievable only through standard, sound and comprehensive primary education.
Children are taught to be literate in primary schools; they familiarize themselves with alphabets and numerals, words recognition, pronunciation, formation of sentence and paragraph and finally, the whole passage comprehension and composition in mother tongue and lingua franca. Reading begins by reading adventure stories in which the heroes get into difficulties. Then, using the suspense technique, the readers’ interest is held until they find how the heroes escape in the end. This boosts readers’ imagination and interests, which results in reading more stories searching for ways to be heroes themselves. With age, the readers grow older and develop an interest in how people think, talk, feel and handle situations and circumstances. That makes them critical in their thoughts and figuring out how to solve their problems through someone’s experience put in writing.
A society that adopts a reading culture will produce vibrant youth of revolutionary character that will be satisfied only with the best from anyone in all circumstances. On the contrary, anything one does with difficulty, the interest in that particular issue gradually fades away until one loses it completely, more so on the reading activity as energy and time consuming are immense. Those who are incapable of reading a quarter of the minimum words expected per minute of an average reader will certainly lose interest in reading since they are expending what isn’t worth it when they can use the same amount of effort that bear fruit in other activities comfortably. They have to abandon reading and then lose all its life-changing attributes.
The cascade of events that lead to poor reading culture begins with poor primary school back and forth. Pupils attend poor primary schools and leave without learning anything substantial. They move to secondary school still without learning much because of a lack of foundation to support the lessons taught. Somehow, they manage to pass the final exams by exam malpractice or otherwise. They get admissions to higher schools of learning and can sail through in different ways. Some do that by cheating, and others with great difficulty of mere rote learning due to inefficient lecturers that are probably victims of poor primary education or lazy in evaluating their students’ performances.
The poor products are the so-called qualified teachers that are given the available teaching job in primary school to continue the vicious cycle. It is common knowledge that one learns much less than one is taught. So, this indicates that a negligible amount of knowledge and motivation is to be learnt from incompetent teachers. Moreover, this results in the decline of knowledge in every generation.
The only way to correct this existing problem and prevent its future occurrence is to recruit enough competent primary school teachers. They should also be given sufficient orientation training that focuses on what they are to teach according to the syllabus and continuously retrain all existing teachers. Furthermore, educated parents and guardians are to monitor the ability of their children’s literacy and numeracy by themselves to ensure their performance since results are faked by teachers, especially those private schools to mislead parents.
Primary school leavers taught by competent primary school teachers don’t need to spend a dime on them in private secondary schools because they’re well equipped to muddle through and even be among the best in the current unsound state of public schools. A qualitative primary education that leads to unlimited reading culture and curiosity is what the first-generation students and their successors got and proved to be highly knowledgeable in virtually all fields of learning despite their lower certificates. Contrary to what is currently obtainable with those with all the degrees but never fails to hide their ignorance of general knowledge and simple basics that were not obtainable right from primary school.
To fix a society, fix education. To fix education, fix primary education, as simple as it sounds.
Aliyu Muhammad Aliyu wrote from Kano via firstname.lastname@example.org.