A good reading culture is an essential element every student of tertiary institution should have in order to acquire knowledge.
Reading experience in Nigerian tertiary instructions can be enhanced through building and equipping libraries with information resources. A school library is a gateway to knowledge and always serve as a starting point or road map to reading and the promotion to reading culture.
However, despite efforts on the side of Nigerian tertiary institutions management to build and equip libraries that can provide books and other resources for improved reading culture, many tertiary institution students hardly patronize their school libraries. In this report, Nasiru Tanimu Annuri, a 400-level student of mass communication at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, x-rays the problem as it affects the Nigerian tertiary institutions.
Many analysts have blamed the poor state of reading culture among students of tertiary institutions on the effects of new media technologies such as mobile phones and the internet. While others have blamed the archaic reading materials which dominated the majority part of libraries in Nigerian tertiary institutions.
Comrade Ozor Ugonna Kingsley, a graduate of Sociology and Anthropology from Enugu State University of Science and Technology, ESUT, cited three issues namely, peer influence, the internet and career choice as factors responsible for poor reading culture among students of tertiary institutions.
“The internet has become disadvantageous to the students in the Nigerian tertiary institution. It should have been a catalyst for knowledge enrichment but the invent of social media has seized it all. Priorities are now often misplaced.”
” I consider the study of an imposed discipline by parents or guardian would amount to a poor reading culture of students. Today, parents tends to choose career for their wards with regards to its prestige. When this happens, the students are merely committed to their studies thereby overriding diligence in academics.” Kingsley lamented.
For Elias Ozikpu, a 400-level mass communication student, National Open University of Nigeria, reading culture is fast declining due to the amount of distractions facing students on daily basis.
” That is quite broad, but I think social media is a major part of that distraction.” Ozikpu stated.
Dr. Abdulrahman Muhammad, a lecturer in the department of Veterinary Public Health, University of Maiduguri said unavailability of good books, reading clubs, good language teachers at early levels of education is the main cause of poor reading culture among students of Tertiary institutions.
For Azodo chukwuebuka C, a graduate of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and currently serving in Delta State, social media like Facebook, Twitter and even Youtube take lots of time off student’s reading time table.
Chukwuebuka lamented that most corporate organizations invests more in entertainment instead of education.
“Example is Maltina dance hall, MTN project fame, Globacom dance with P-square, etc. While some that invest in education do so grudgingly, example is Cowbell spelling bee, etc.” Chukwuebuka further lamented.
A lecturer in the Department of Mass Communication at the Ahmadu Bello University,,Zaria, Kabiru Danladi Lawanti however blamed lack of motivation on the side of both the teachers and parents and the archaic nature of reading materials in school libraries as major reasons behind the decline in reading culture.
“Students nowadays prefer watching lecture videos, notes wrapped with graphics, etc than actual reading exercise. I think the problem is systematic. Lack of early motivation on the side of teachers and parents, as well as the archaic nature of school libraries were among the causes.”
“In order to arrest the situation, parents need to encourage their children to take reading habit seriously because its the most effective way to acquire knowledge. Similarly, our libraries need a complete overhaul to accommodate more comprehensive reading materials.” Lawanti noted
” I think this is not as a result of any one factor. It is as result of a cluster of them, from family, environment, school down to the society. These factors are what help in forming the mindset of an individual, and such becomes the mindset of the society in general. So my suggestion on this is that, you should adopt a multifaceted approach and don’t look at it from a monocausal stuff.” Said Abdulhamud Al-Gazali, a public affair analyst based in Maiduguri.
For Abdulbasit Abubakar Adamu, a 400level student of mass communication at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, the advent of social media has successfully swept away the spirit of readership in students.
“Students prefer to spend hours on the internet (social networking sites) which consists mainly of Facebook, Twitter, Baddoo, Eskimi and the rest, making fun with themselves and some even go to the extent engaging in acts of indecency and nudity. Not considering the fact that there on that same social platform, there are numerous pages, groups and circles where people can learn a great deal.”
“There are also websites where people can get their hands on textbooks and journals that can help educationally. Novels are also available in eBook formats to help boost vocabulary, social thinking and imaginative thoughts. With all these we still feel we should go the other way round.” Adamu lamented.
Aminu Aliyu, another graduate of International Studies from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, said the problem of reading culture among students in tertiary institutions, has to do with the country’s socio-economic system.
“For decades now, students read not with the sole purpose of advancing the frontiers of knowledge but to overwhelm quagmires of poverty and adversity as the result of pressures coming from within the political process. ”
“However, improvement in reading culture of students in tertiary institutions lies in equitable share of resources and sanity in polity, especially where students’ fear for academic struggles that yield to nothingness will ceases to flourish.” Aliyu stated
Abdulrazaq Madu, a lecturer in the Department of Public Administration at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, noted that the decline in our values system that emphasized on mediocrity rather than competence and merit in which students nowadays believe in has directly influenced the sharp decline in Reading culture among the students of tertiary institutions in Nigeria.
“Most students in tertiary institutions now depends on the Internet as a source of information without reading to know it’s authentic sources. This is one of the major reasons accounts for a sharp decline in reading culture.”
“Examination malpractices in our educational system in which even parents pay to ensure that their wards get the required credits and grades for proper placements into higher institutions and even employment after graduation. This affects in no small measures making our students relaxed and not taking their readings seriously.” Madu lamented
But Tunde Asaju, a renowned journalist has different views regarding the decline of reading culture among students of tertiary institutions in Nigeria. He argued that there is no valid statistic to support the argument that reading culture is fast declining among students of tertiary institutions in Nigeria.
” How do we know there is a decline in reading culture among students? Do we have the statistics showing what it used to be and what it is now? Of course not. So this is pure speculation and one of the reasons why our nation needs to do something about information gathering, dissemination and management. If we know the numbers, then we can do something to cure the ills.”
“The standard of teaching is still very low. I graduated eons ago, but even then, most of my lecturers were still using the lecture notes and the handouts they’ve had since their 60s or late 70s. Has anything changed? Who is looking? For instance, we have so many private universities, stories of people passing with First Class and Second Class Upper – where are they in the scheme of things? Have they become employers of labour, researchers or are they – like the rest of the rat race – chasing money? We need to know the statistics because if we don’t, then how can we correct it. If our society insists that education, which is not limited to reading school texts, is less important than chasing money, then the standard will continue to fall. Its very simple, why should anyone spend their time reading when they could get millions of money even if they are semi or stark illiterates? That is another reason.” Asaju stressed
“And the third one..” Asaju Continued ” I can remember at this point is our penchant to spend all our lives on social media. Look at the time we spend on Facebook arguing over nonsense or spilt milk items and compare it with the time we could have spent gathering knowledge.”
“Related to that of course is the fact that books (as in published works) is dying in most parts of the developed world – being replaced by i-readers. How many of our schools or public libraries have these written materials in the form that is accessible to their audience?” Asaju queried.