Often times, literacy has been defined as the ability to read and write. However, very little attention has been paid on ‘how’ to read.
Since time immemorial, educators have been putting more emphasis on just being able to read and understand. Better understanding and recalling of information is pegged to the ability to read fast and efficiently.
The Rwandan ordinary level curriculum requires learners to be able to read at a speed of 350 words per minute. But the big question is how many achieve this at the end of the course?
At higher institutions of learning where there are voluminous works and books to be read, successful students are supposed to read at a speed of 600 words per minute.
An undergraduate student taking an average of 8 units per semester has to read an average of 8 books in a semester. If each book has an average of 600 pages, then the student has to read about 38,400 pages by the end of the degree course.
The task is too tough for slow readers.
The higher the speed of reading the better and faster understanding of a text. Memory retention is higher for faster readers than slow ones.
Poor reading habits among students like movement of the head while reading and using a finger or a ruler to guide reading should be highly discouraged by teachers.
The poor habits, research reveals, lower the speed of understanding and tire the brain.
To enhance understanding and general comprehension, students should make reading a daily task. Each student should read at least 8 pages a day. Regular reading improves knowledge of tenses, sentence patterns and widens vocabulary repertoire.
One of the main reasons why students do not do well in English exams is having poor comprehension skills. Ordinary level exams carry 30 marks for comprehension and vocabulary only. Students who are poor in comprehension lose 30% of the whole paper.
A culture of extensive and intensive reading has to be ingrained in the character of students. Finishing a whole day without opening a book is insidious. It is like slowly inserting your brain into a refrigerator. Over time the brain will be benumbed and fail to grasp difficult texts.
Many of my friends who would not take literature in school cited their inability to read many novels as the sole reason for their choice.
What is difficult about reading novels? This is absolute laziness. The popular saying that, ‘closed books never open minds’ should be meaningful to lazy readers. Reading is a pleasurable and highly interactive process between the reader and the text.
You can read to be entertained or informed but above all, comprehension and high memory retention should be enhanced by efficient and fast readership.
The author is the Director Of Studies at Nu Vision High School, Kabuga.