Worried by the dwindling reading habits among all strata of society and the decline in the country’s education standard, Rotary Club of Lagos, in collaboration with Quramo Publishing, has launched a campaign aimed at reigniting the passion for reading among the youth in the country.
The campaign, tagged ‘Read,’ is an advocacy project aimed at getting books to Nigerian children and raising awareness about the dire need to improve and sustain a reading culture in the country. According to the organisers, the club intends to take thousands of books to 20 schools in 20 local governmental areas in 20 weeks.
The club also plans to use Rotarians, celebrities from entertainment and the business world, who could be role models for children, to read and shares stories from books with children.
While speaking recently at a press briefing to in Lagos kick-start the campaign, Rotary Club’s President, Modupe Sasore, stated that the role of reading in education cannot be overemphasised. He noted that the most important form of education takes place through reading, adding that reading is a great tool in education and an important skill in everyday life.
While commenting on the club’s decision to embark on the campaign, Sasore said statistics available to them showed that reading habit among the youth in Nigeria is very low. She blamed the decline in access to books in the country being partly responsible for the poor figure.
Sasore said: “The average western child has access to about 13 books at any given point in time, while in sharp contrast, there is an average of 300 African children to every one book!”
She explained that teaching the skill at the foundational level for children is very important to fuel the passion for reading, adding that reading is best taught before and at the primary school level to lay the right foundation for the youth.
“The objective is to ignite interest in reading books among the children, and once this is done, they become prolific readers,” she remarked.
Also speaking at the event, Read Project Manager, Omowunmi Segun, attributed the steady decline in reading culture to the prohibitive cost of books and the inordinate amount of time young people devote to social media, Nollywood movies and other forms of entertainment.
Segun lamented that the trend has resulted in low literacy levels and has given rise to a new generation of illiterates for whom there are very few opportunities in the society. She claimed that the lack of opportunities is responsible for the social exclusion of many young people, who then resort to crime and other vices to survive.
She also argued that for the situation to be redressed, reading must become the foundation of learning and equitable access to books be made mandatory.
The organisers stated that the books to be distributed would be acquired through purchase and donations from members of the public, explaining that the books to be distributed would mainly be the kind that expand the mind and stretch the imagination of children to be innovative, make discoveries and invent things in the future.