By Uche Dim
Former Commissioner of Education in Delta State,Â Dr.(Mrs.) Ogbuagu has expressed worry about the deficiencies in the nationâ€™s school system which has affected the reading culture of over 80 percent of students in the country.
Ogbuagu who disclosed this at the launching of the book My Step Mother by Mrs. Pat Ero Bivbere, in Warri, Delta State, said one goal of schooling is the development of language and literacy and literacy includes oral language as well as reading and writing.
According to her, â€œReading problems constitute one of the most frequently experienced difficulties of Nigerian public school pupils and students and over 80 percent of Nigerian public primary school students are poor readers who have problems with comprehension of what they read.â€
In her speech titled Promoting reading culture partnership with families, Ogbuagu said that the Nigerian child needs to have a good command of the English language so as to be able to function well in his country and communicate effectively with the people in countries all over the world.
She noted that it is imperative for the Nigerian child to be taught the good English-recognized and accepted all over the world from the primary school. Ogbuagu pointed out that for a child to have the upper-hand in English language, the parents, teachers and school all have a role to play in the development of language and literacy.
She stressed the need for parents to read to their children, take them to book stores and libraries, as well as limiting the amount of televison everyone watches.
In her words, â€œChildren in homes like this develop faster in language and literacy unlike homes that doesnâ€™t provide such literacy rich environment. Parents on their own part must provide books for their children and encourage them to read anywhere and anytime. They donâ€™t have to be a reading specialist or a grammar expert to help their children enjoy the wonders of reading and writing.â€
Ogbuagu pointed out that teachers should work hard towards improving good reading, writing and communication skills in school children by motivating them to engage in recreational reading. She also added that no child should be deprived the right to read fluently and speak good and correct English.
According to her, â€œthe English teacher should also be a good model, bearing in mind that learners are good imitators, especially of their teachers; have at his/her disposal several instructional materials in teaching English language and provide list of good childrenâ€™s literature available locally.â€
On the role of the school, she advised that schools should introduce literature-in-English at the primary school level where children are exposed to reading local novels such as Chike and the River, Eze goes to School etc.Â They should also provide home activities to be shared with family members and encourage family members to work with children to read always.â€
She also appealed to all concerned working directly with children to try and encourage them to become interested in learning to read themselves as good reading skills help learners in performing well in all other subjects on their curriculum.