The Arts

May 23, 2023

How proposed National Book Policy will boost education

How proposed National Book Policy will boost education

The Chairman of NIBF, Mr. Dare Oluwatuyi (in front) conducting his guests; VC, University of Benin, Prof. Lilian Salami, and CEO/National Librarian Prof. Veronica Chinwe Anunobi, to the book exhibition stands at Yard 158 Arena, Oregun, Ikeja, Lagos.

 By Prisca Sam-Duru

The 2023 edition of Nigeria International Book fair (NIBF) ended on Saturday, May 13, 2023 in Lagos, on a reverberating note.

In addition to all of its features including, discussions, workshops, fun activities, books sales and so much more, the hope of Nigeria having a National Book Policy made the 22nd edition of the book fair the best ever.

The good news is that after 63 years of existence as independent country, Nigeria’s book ecosystem will now have a defined direction. This is courtesy of the newly proposed National Book Policy that has been developed by an agency of the Federal Government of Nigeria, Nigeria Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC).

The proposed policy will, however, undergo legislative processes before it becomes operational. This however, would be after the life of the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration ends on May 29, 2023.

This disclosure formed part of the keynote paper NERDC’s Executive Secretary, Professor Ismail Junaidu, presented at during the fair which was themed, ‘The Role of a Functional National Book Policy in the African Book Ecosystem.’

Prof Junaidu shared the sentiments of those in the educational system when he said that Nigeria now shares with other developing countries a variety of problems bedeviling the book publishing industry that include the “inability to provide adequate numbers of high-quality books, book piracy, proliferation of unqualified author-publishers, lack of capital, among others. Nigeria is also witnessing the proliferation of school books with obscene contents that are inimical to our culture, our social values and our religious beliefs. These manifestations are indicators of an unhealthy book ecosystem. They also indicate the preponderance of sharp practices by actors in the system; a weak system that must be strengthened through the functionality of a National Book Policy.”

He further stressed the interrelationship which should exist within the book ecosystem that should be “between authors and editors, teachers, scholars, researchers, book representatives, publishers, among others, adding that they are “part and parcel of the book ecosystem requiring the observations of certain conventions and protocols. Without proper regulatory framework enshrined in a functional book policy, the book ecosystem will continue to experience setbacks.”

He further stated that it was why his council undertook to develop the proposed book policy to address most of these challenges.”

In line with the statutory mandate of the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC), it has, in concert with other core stakeholders, developed the National Book Policy,” he revealed.

After outlining the perceived wrongs that have attended Nigeria’s book and educational sector in over four decades, Junaidu said the newly minted National Book Policy will do the following for the book sector, “Promote and reward local authorship of educational books, supplementary and general reading materials both in foreign and Nigerian languages, create an enabling environment for publishing as well as provide support services needed for manuscripts generation, seek, where necessary, the purchase of rights of published works in high demand in our educational system, make books available and affordable at all levels through a sustainable system of distribution and use, support and encourage investigation and research into book development.“

It will also encourage the production of books in specialized areas (for example, Braille for the visually impaired), encourage the publication of all professional works, and support the establishment and growth of libraries at all levels of the educational system, particularly at the primary school and at the community levels.

Earlier, Chairman of Nigeria Book Fair Trust, organiser of the book fair, Mr. Dare Oluwatuyi, expressed pleasure at the quality of guests at the 22nd edition of the book fair, saying, “This year’s book fair is unique in many ways. The theme of this year’s book fair revolves around National Book Policy. This shall be discussed at the international conference of the fair.

“Another major event is the Tertiary Education Summit’s first edition. It will beam light and chat course to resolve the constant imbroglio in our tertiary education citadels. All our programme promises to be exciting and rewarding.”

“One remarkable success of this year’s book fair is the sheer number of government’s presence, something that was lacking in the past. Government agencies like Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND), National Library of Nigeria (NLN), and Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), and the Committee of Vice Chancellors, whose chairperson, Prof. Lilian Salami, delivered the keynote for the maiden edition of The Tertiary Education Summit.”