This paper is a sensitization campaign on the need for an active reading culture in Nigeria, as a way of fostering enlightenment, peace and development in the nation. It reviews the dynamic relationship between the concepts of reading, reading culture, enlightenment, peace and development, particularly as it concerns Nigeria. It further provides strategies for building a more active reading culture, for enlightenment, peace, and development in Nigeria. The paper is necessitated, on the one hand, by the public outcry on the issue of poor reading culture and high level of illiteracy among the Nigerian citizenry, and, on the other hand, the persistent problems of insecurity, low productivity and poverty in Nigeria, which could be linked to the poor reading culture and high level of illiteracy in the country. The research relied mainly on qualitative library research method. Students, teachers, parents, writers, publishers, curriculum designers, education ministries, libraries, political leaders and the general public will find this paper instructive.
Reading culture, at present, in Nigeria is in double jeopardy: not only is the patronage low, the efforts made by past Nigerian governments, institutions, and different organizations, local and international, to entrench it in the country have been jeopardized by the current “viewing culture” and “chatting culture”, the habits of watching pictures or videos, and chatting with friends in smart phones and other electronic devices, especially among the youths, in the country. This situation is a source of worry to many Nigerians. Akaligwo (2016), for example, makes a comparison between the youths of his generation, those who are about forty to fifty years old now, and the much younger generation, who are in school now:
We were voracious readers of novels and other books. Nelkon for our Ordinary Level Physics, Lambert for Chemistry, B.O. Adeleke and Goh Cheng Leong for our Geography, Phebean Ogundipe for Practical English, Achebe and Soyinka for Literature and others like that. We were always flaunting our knowledge of current affairs…. Nowadays, students can hardly string a sentence together in English without errors. Fast forward 35 years on and you are shocked and disturbed. Have you ever spoken to or engaged a 20 year-old boy? Ask him what motivates him and he is likely to mention music, hip hop to be precise. He has hundreds of downloaded songs on his phone. He can sing all of them off hand. (Alaligwo in Mothers’ Voice, 15, p. 29)
The scenario painted above exposes the problem of poor reading culture in Nigeria today. The youths today spend too much of their time and energy watching videos, playing music and chatting real time, such that they have too little time and energy to spare on reading useful materials, including their school books. In this vein, Adesulu, Adebusayo, & Amos (2017) lament that most students do not read in many universities and higher institutions in Nigeria; the few who read once in a while merely do so as a means of passing their examinations. This position is elucidated by the comments made by Mr. Cornelius Audu, a library officer at the Ramat Library at the University of Maiduguri, on the matter: “Whenever you see many students here [in the library], it’s either they have test, assignment or examination which is at variance with the culture of seriousness we had in the past. Then, students read every day and even at night as the school library is open even at night” (Adesulu et al., Vanguard, 2017).
The incidence of poor reading culture in Nigeria today is not limited to the youths alone; a large percentage of adults, even those with higher education, in the country today have significantly exhibited a decrease in their reading habits. This problem is attributable to globalization and the rapid development of the entertainment industry which have displaced reading as a prestigious source of information and as a pleasant and esteemed form of leisure (Kamalova and Koletvinova, 2016). In Nigeria, for example, from observation, adults who once regarded reading as leisure now prefer to entertain themselves by watching the CNN, Super Sports, Nat Geo Wild, or the popular Nollywood (African Magic) channels, while the children are preoccupied with Nickelodeon, the cartoon networks, videos, music, and games. In the opinion of Senator Sani, the present Senate Committee Chairman on Local and Foreign Debts in Nigeria, on this issue, the decline in reading culture was real, not just among young people, but also among the political leaders, which is evident in the low quality of their intellectual discourse (Ramalan, 2017).
Read the rest by downloading the document in pdf at the bottom of this page
Adesulu, D., Adebusayo, A, &Amos, B. (2017, May 4). Reading culture: How students waste hours on social media. Vanguard. Retrieved from https://www.vanguardngr.com/2017/05/reading-culture-students-waste-hours-social-media/
Akaligwo, E. A. (2016, July). Coming generation scares me real hard. The Mothers’ Voice, 15, 29.
Bamberger, R. (1975). Promoting the reading habit. Paris: UNESCO.
Dempsey, J. D. (2010). Present your way to the top. New York: McGraw Hill.
Federal Republic of Nigeria: National Policy on Education – 4th Edition. (2004). Lagos: National Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC)
Foucault, M. (1969). The archaeology of knowledge. London: Routledge.
Gbadamosi, T. (2007). Library reading culture and students’ academic performance in secondary schools in Oyo State”. Middle Belt Journal of Library and Information Science, 7(2), 42-58.
Golmohammadi, B. (2014). Without peace can there be development. Huffpost. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/boniangolmohammadi/without-peace-can-there-b_b_5903120.html
Gore, C. (2000). The rise and fall of the Washington consensus as a paradigm for developing countries. World Development, 28(5), 789–804.
Ibrahim, U. (2004). Strategies for the promotion of sustainable reading culture for life-long development among the Nigerian youth. Paper presented at the National Library of Nigeria, North-west Zonal Workshop on National Readership Promotion (RPC), held at Kaduna on the 23rd March 2004.
Igwe, K. N. (2011). Reading culture and Nigeria’s quest for sustainable development. Library Philosophy and Practice. Retrieved from http://digitalcommons. unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1500&context=libphilprac
Jegbefume, C. M., Yaji, G. S., & Dala, H. S. (2017). Improved reading culture: A panacea for sustainable national development [Electronic version]. International Journal of Applied Technologies in Library and Information Management, 3(1), 66-73.
Kamalova, L. A., & Koletvinova, N. D. (2016). The problem of reading and reading culture improvement of students-Bachelors of Elementary Education in modern high institution. International Journal of Environmental & Science Education, 11(4), 473-484.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Definition of enlightenment for English Language learners. Retrieved November 30 2017, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/enlightenment.
Moyle, D. (1969). The teaching of reading. London: The Trinity Press.
Nssien, F. U. (2007). Reading habits and skills. In F. E. Etim and F. U. Nssien (Eds.), Information literacy for library search (pp. 90-105). Uyo: Abaam Publishing.
Nuttal, C. (1982). Teaching reading skills in a foreign language. Oxford: Heinemann.
Nyariki, L., & Krolak, L. (2016). A case for national book and reading law in the advent of the digital revolution. UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning, Confintea Scholarship Programme. Retrieved November 23, 2017, from http://www.adeanet.org/en/system/files/resources/national_book_policies_africa.pdf.
Ogbonna, I. M. (2014). Books, libraries and reading in the digital age. Enugu: Eminota Publishers.
Ogugua, J. C., Emerole, N., Egwim, F. O., Anyanwu, A. I., & Haco-Obasi, F. (2015). Developing a reading culture in Nigerian society: Issues and Remedies [Electronic version]. JORIND, 13(1), 62-67.
Okafor, S. Enlightenment on population control and youth exposure to formal education via General Studies: The antithesis to politico-religious conflicts in Nigeria. Journal of Research and Development. Retrieved from https://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/enlightenment-on-population-control-and-youth-exposure-to-formaleducation-via-general-studies-the-antithesis-to-politicoreligiousc-.php?aid=90946.
Rauscher, F. (2017). Kant’s social and political philosophy. In E. N. Zalta (Ed.), The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy (Spring 2017 Edition). Retreived from https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2017/entries/kant-social-political/.
Ruterana, P. C. (2012). The making of a reading society: Developing a culture of reading in Rwanda (PhD thesis, Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning).
Society for International Development. (n.d.). What is development. Retrieved September 12, 2017, from https://www.sid-israel.org/en/development-issues/whas-is-development/.
Suleiman, S. R., & Crosman, I. (Eds.). (1980). The reader in the text. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Tofflers, A. (1970). Future shock. New York: Random House.
UNDP (United Nations Development Programme). (1990). Human Development Report 1990. New York: Oxford University Press for the UNDP.
Zelezer, P. T. (2002). The dynamics of book and library development in Anglophone Africa. In R. Stringer (Ed.), The book chain in Anglophone Africa: A survey and directory (pp. 3-7). Oxford: International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP).