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Nigeria can become a major force in Africa and indeed the world, if proper policies and structures are in place to entrench good reading culture. The rising population of reluctant readers in this age of information explosion is disturbing. Chinelo (2010) in The Nation Newspaper of May 27th noted that no society can develop more than the knowledge base of its citizens. He decried the dying culture of reading among children as leaders of tomorrow. This is the pathetic state of the Nigerian society. It is either Nigerians are not reading or if they do, do so reluctantly.
Nigeria as a society is composed of the partially-literate, aliterate, and literate avid readers. The partially literates can neither read nor write but have acquired informal education. The literate avid readers are highly motivated individuals who take delight in reading. They read with passion and for pleasure. They naturally love and enjoy reading. Aliterates however, can read but refuse to read and if they read, do so reluctantly. They are uncommitted and occasionally motivated to do so. They lack enthusiasm for reading and always have reasons why they would not read.
Aliteracy is here with us and we cannot run away from this fact. In most Nigerian schools, youths or students are hardly seen around reading except for reasons of test, examination or homework. They are not easily given to reading for the love of doing so. Instead most engage in group discussions or gossip, cracking of jokes, indoor games e.g. cards, cludo, chest etc during free periods. They also use break periods to play football and other outdoor games. Furthermore, students who have access to computers and internet facilities prefer to browse, chat, send email, sms, facebook, yahoo messanger, play computer games. While at home students most times play football, watch Television entertainment programmes such as drama, films, comedies, listening to music, watch dancing competitions and so on in the absence of house hold chores. Occasionally we see isolated cases of students engaged in reading as a recreation. Something must be wrong somewhere A few years back the situation was different. It used to be a thing of pride to be seen reading. Today even the few people who have the advantage of having books to read do not read. There are more than enough activities competing for the little available time to students. In the past, there were more students who took on reading as a hobby than today.
A famous quote by Mark Twain states it best: “The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them." The purpose of education is to give students every advantage at making a good life for themselves, and one way is to take advantage of the richness and benefits of reading (The Mark Twain Circle of New York, 1998).