Last week, I pointed out why a society must embrace and promote a reading culture. This week I want to present a vision for Rwandan readers.
The greatest book ever written in the history of mankind, The Holy Bible, (for Christians) underscores the danger of existence without a well defined vision. It states that a nation without a vision perishes.
Without a vision for our schools and people from all walks of life, the society will sink and perish.
I share Elinor Sisulu’s vision (2004) for South Africa.
He looks forward to see avid lifelong readers who read widely and value African literature. He also hopes to see governments that vigorously promote the value of reading at national, provincial, local and regional levels.
Education should integrate reading at the core of the curriculum at all levels and encourage reading for pleasure.
Majority of literate people in Africa only read for academic excellence. After achieving the intellectual excellence, they burry books and concentrate on work and business.
We cannot develop if we cannot continue upgrading and updating our skills. People who don’t read after school cannot match the current dynamics and trends in the field of contemporary knowledge and science.
Knowledge is dynamic and not static. If you cannot keep yourself abreast with the current trends in knowledge, then you will be no better than one who never saw a gate of a school, leave alone the inside.
The year 2004 statistics indicate that in South Africa, 3 million adults were completely illiterate. These could not read instructions on a bottle of medicine or complete a job application form without assistance.
Five to eight million were functionally illiterate, unable to function adequately in the modern world due to underdeveloped reading and writing skills.
Unclear figures of millions of people were literate. These were able to read but they didn’t read- a consequence of lack of a reading culture.
East Africa boasts of a higher record of literacy levels for both men and women than the average Sub-Sahara literacy levels.
Kenya has higher literacy rates of men (90%) and women (75%) followed by Tanzania which records 85.2% for men and 69.2% for women. Uganda’s literacy rate for men is at 78.9% and 59.2% for women.
Despite the high literacy rates for East Africa, there remains a negligible number of lifelong readers—men and women who can read for both information and pleasure.
An overwhelming percentage of people still remain ignorant of what we can call obvious issues like facts about the East African Community.
Governments and NGOs should promote reading in schools and homes. Let there be well stocked public, school and private libraries to nourish people’s minds.
Lifelong readers will take pride in local, national and regional affairs of their continent. They will make their countries internationally competitive and thereby add impetus to the rates of development of the individual countries.