EVER imagined of the easiest thing that anyone can do without any specialized skill or literacy? It is avoiding reading. Since time immemorial, nothing has been simpler than this.
As Rwandan schools close their doors for the end of second term tomorrow, thousands of books will be closed too. Others shall be lost because the term shall have ended after all.
A tour around the schools today evening or tomorrow morning will certainly unearth a common spectacle—the schools’ support staff with warped backs busy disposing ‘academic garbage.’
A support staff member from a fairly big school will probably lament about an awful experience of cleaning up after students’ end of term examination papers, notes and even textbooks strewn all over the premises.
For many students, reading is about passing examinations—nothing more.
Students given reading assignments that will not count in their end of term grades would rather sleep than waste their energy doing them. They believe that there is no need of reading something that will not be examined.
Teachers on school duty face a daunting task of having students settle down for quiet study. If there are no exams or if they are far away, teachers and prefects suffer.
The big question to ask is: Where is our reading culture?
I remember way back in my university days, not long ago though, there used to be ‘academic bonfires’ which would engulf all the notes of fourth year students after their final exams.
And guess what? These are some of the professional teachers teaching our students today.
In my opinion, lack of a reading culture in our schools stems from poor leadership from the educators who are supposed to foster the skill of reading in budding learners.
Current and previous educators gave a morass kind of foundation to the first education products of African education systems.
There seems to be a genetical disease of not reading that threatens to be a devastating pandemic, only second to HIV/AIDS.
The populous African continent cannot pride herself in a literate citizenry that is well informed about local, regional and global affairs.
Absence of reading is a barrier to effective development, reconstruction and international competitiveness.
The African education systems have been intensely criticized for being examination driven rather than imparting enduring learning experiences onto learners.
It should be impressed upon everybody that knowledge acquired at any level cannot be useless. From experience I have discovered that a skill acquired at any level can be very handy at a later time.
Being educated does not only refer to the cognitive accomplishment which can be proven by quality academic papers. It also encompasses knowledge in other spheres of life like the social- cultural and religious affairs.
All and sundry should get involved in rigorously promoting a reading culture in homes and schools if chances of success in school and beyond are to be enhanced.
The author is the Director Of Studies at Nu Vision High School, Kabuga.