OVER the years this column has touched on the subject of reading culture many times. Likewise, many other writers and leaders have done the same.
Through reading one gets informed on various aspects of life and it is a compliment for one to be considered ‘well read’. However attaining and retaining information is much broader than just reading a book or a newspaper.
The question that I have for teachers and parents today is how informed is your student or child? And by information I am not just talking about what is taught in class, but the kind of information that could be asked in a quiz.
I am talking about any simple information that one should possess as a bare minimum to fit in civilised society. Have you ever been somewhere and heard someone ask a rather stupid question? The kind of question one asks and you even fear to answer because all you will be doing is pointing out how uninformed they are?
That basic information starts with information about one’s country for example. It may be easy for school going children to identify our president but how about the Prime Minister or the Minister of Education? In short how informed are they about their leaders?
Try asking them if they even know the leaders of neighbouring countries such as Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda or the Democratic Republic of Congo. You can extend the probing to other prominent nations like USA, UK, or South Africa. Does your son know the new French President? How about the two female presidents in Africa?
Knowing such information is evidence that one follows news events around the world. Your children should not only be able to name the players of major European football clubs but also the different leaders of influential countries.
In your probing, you can also find out from your child or your student whether they have enough geographical information not to look stupid in society. This is even simpler; do your students know which district their school is located in? Many geographical units in Rwanda now have different names. Do they know these names?
Can they tell you on which continent a particular country is found? What about other bits of information like capital cities? Do your students know the capital city of Canada for example? What about the South Africa, is it Johannesburg or Pretoria? When it comes to Nigeria, is the correct answer Lagos?
You can also test their knowledge on animals. Do they know that a whale is a mammal? Can they list some of the wild animals that can be found in Rwanda’s game parks? You don’t want your son to be the one trying to convince his friends that in Lake Kivu there are sharks just because he saw them in water on TV.
Teachers and parents should teach their children all they can so as to build on their body of knowledge. Every now and then, tell your daughter something new even if it’s simply the fact that your Toyota car was manufactured in Japan and not USA.
Encourage children to watch news, read newspapers or follow the news on TV. There is nothing prestigious about being ignorant. Sarah Palin, an American politician, is often mocked for her ignorance on world affairs. Surely you don’t want your child to grow into the next Sarah Palin.
Schools on their part can organise quizzes where students are asked general knowledge questions and offered prizes at the end of the exercise. You just never know when this trivial information may turn out helpful. What I know is that you maybe crucified for not knowing it. Ask Sarah Palin.