Back in the days of our fathers, reading was part of the learned, such that those who were not well educated strived to go to college in order to acquire more knowledge. Reading then was bedrock of greatness in every individual, regardless of age and gender. It is however alarming how this practice is fast eroding in our society.
Reading stimulates imagination, encourages quick learning, curiosity and expands horizons. It also enhances acquisition of skills for handling complex issues and it is the mother of strategic planning. It hurts however to know that the sharp decline in our reading culture is attributed to a number of factors.
Social Media is one of the problems. People have devoted more time chatting, uploading photos and commenting on irrelevant posts on the new media than seeking materials that will enhance their knowledge. It is worse that people hardly read serious articles online to make comments. Students have converted their reading time to surf the internet. The result is promotion of examination malpractices, which has become a norm in our education system. This has degenerated to an extent that students and parents look out for ‘miracle’ centres.
Poverty is equally a great challenge to the poor reading culture in Nigeria. In a country where about seventy per cent of the population lives with less than one dollar per day, it means that a larger population cannot afford the basic educational foundation that will enable them read and write. Such people are more interested in what to eat rather than seeking materials to get knowledge.
Moreover, most of our schools are associated with noisy environment and full of distractions that are hindrances to the smooth flow of learning and reading to understand. In the past, schools were built in isolated places. But the reverse is the case today as schools are mostly found in the Central Business Districts of towns and cities. This is because school owners see the institution more as a business venture, hence the location where it can be accessed easily.
To stem the tide, schools should inculcate library periods into their timetable and also ensure that the time table is strictly adhered to. Government should ensure that every school is equipped with a good library, even down to the nursery where children enjoy picture story books. In fact, federal and states’ ministries of Education should declare a state of emergency in the education sector.
Additionally, the pursuit for material fame and fortune among Nigerian youth and paying lip service to education has contributed to the drastic fall in the reading culture. Our youth now attach undue importance to fame and wealth such that the place of reading has been relegated. Youths now prefer to venture into the lucrative world of entertainment where their intelligence quotient would hardly be tested and parents are also now encouraging children to toe this path because everyone wants to be the parent of a super star or celebrity.
The society is not helping matters. People now celebrate mediocrity at the expense of intellectualism. This is manifest in our quest for materialism; many Nigerians have abandoned their educational careers for the pursuit of ‘quick money’, which they believe can be faster through business and politics.
If all these are not checked, the present and future generations in Nigeria will be at the risk of losing much to knowledge acquisition. One of the most common places where one can find knowledge is in books and articles. If we allow the ugly trend of non-reading culture, it is certain that we are at the verge of raising a mediocre generation. This will spell doom for the country because there will be a huge vacuum for technocrats who will pilot the affairs of our society.
Reading is the supreme light-giver that opens eyes to the past and then gives an insight to the future. Reading adds quality to life, provides access to culture, empowers and emancipates citizens as well as brings people together. We need to re-integrate the reading culture in our people as the gains of a reading citizenry cannot be over emphasized. This will help to prove the white man wrong when he said, “If you want to hide something from a black man, keep it in a book.”