BY AGNES NWORIE, ABAKALIKI
Stakeholders and experts in the education sector have identified low budgetary allocations by the Federal and State Governments as reason for the poor standard of the sector.
Unless concerned authorities increase their yearly funds for education to at least 20 per cent of the total budget, they opined that the nation’s education sector would not improve.
The stakeholders, in their separate interviews with The Point, also blamed the decline in reading culture among Nigerians on governments and parents, saying they had neglected their responsibilities.
An expert, Uchenna Udenwe, faulted parents as being part of the reasons for the decline in reading culture among Nigerian youths.
Udenwe, an Ebonyi born award-winning author of many books, bemoaned the lack of family libraries that would encourage young ones to read, adding that enlightened parents were also guilty of this.
He encouraged parents to be alive to their responsibilities of proper training of their children, especially at thetender age.
As part of the immediate panacea to the challenges confronting the education sector, Udenwe advocated for the supply of education friendly equipment to schools, establishment of new schools, increased budgetary allocation as well as recruitment of adequate best brains as teachers and administrators of schools.
He said, “It is true that the reading culture among Nigerians has declined. If you sample a population of 500 young people who are supposed to be active readers, you may not find up to 50 who have read any book at all in the last one year. So, when you talk about the physical reading, the reading culture is dead. There is this argument that the reading culture is evolving. That, though people might not be reading hardcopy newspapers, novels, books in general, they are reading online papers, people’s educative posts, blogs and so on. So in that sense, we might say that reading culture is not dead but has evolved.
“There is also another argument that digital reading in terms of reading books on social media doesn’t guarantee meaningful knowledge because people go on social media not to consciously find things to read and gain knowledge but to read all kinds of posts. When you engage such people in conversation, you find them lacking. But when you read physical books, you read them with the intention to gain knowledge. In general, when you measure the reading culture among Nigerians, you would see that it is actually dying.”
Proferring solutions, he stated, “Governments should establish and equip libraries across all schools. Many schools do not have functional libraries. Ninety-five per cent of the primary schools we have do not have libraries at all; not to talk of an equipped one. In that circumstance, you see that kids whose parents could not buy texts will not read.”
“Aside from educational policies, there should be policies that will motivate the people to read. If you don’t visit the schools regularly for supervision, the right thing may not be done. The budgetary allocation for education should be increased to at least 20 per cent of the entire budget for a meaningful impact to be felt.”
In his own submission, another stakeholder, Alphonsus Igwe, attributed the decline in reading culture to high level of corruption in the country where parents support examination malpractice by registering their children at examination miracle centres, buying phones for them at tender ages which leaves them with no reason to burn the midnight candles.
“Part of the ways to encourage the reading culture is building on the foundation of education. To do that, you have to maintain the schools we have and build new ones. Every day, the population of the state increases; the population in 1996 when the state was created is not the same as today,” the school administrator said.
“Government should close all miracle examination centers. When parents spend money to register the children in miracle centres, the children will see no reason to read. Another reason for the decline is that people read just to pass examinations, whereas, reading should be a culture, way of life of everyone and not a tool for fire brigade approach during examinations,” he added.