Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

Reading Culture and Nigeria's Quest for Sustainable Development

Academic journal article Library Philosophy and Practice

Reading Culture and Nigeria's Quest for Sustainable Development

Article excerpt

Introduction

Reading is power!

Read a book today!

Reading maketh a man!

Teach a child to read--and you have made a king!

Reading Association of Nigeria & International Reading Association

The above assertion indicates the place of reading in the general development of man and his society. Holt (1998) remarks that a situation in which a large number of people rarely read, either because they lack the skill or simply because they do not care enough to take time to concentrate will pose serious problems in the future. Reading is essential to full participation in modern society. It adds quality to life, provides access to culture and cultural heritage, empowers and emancipates citizen as well as brings people together. In the words of Sisulu (2004), reading is one of the fundamental building blocks of learning. Becoming a skilled and adaptable reader enhances the chances of success at school and beyond. Reading is not just for school, it is for life. Reading in all its variety is vital to being better informed, have a better understanding of us as well as others. It makes man to be a thoughtful and constructive contributor to a democratic and cohesive society. Leading world nations pride themselves on their promotion of reading. They see a high level of literacy as a major source of their competitiveness and social maturity. The absence of a widespread culture of reading in the case of Nigeria acts as an effective barrier to our development and international competitiveness. The economic, social and political health of our nation today depends on building literate citizens that are able to read widely and apply it practically for development. It is therefore a necessity to making the present generation more aware of the benefits and importance of reading and ensuring that they have the literacy skills required in the modern society.

On assumption of office on May 29, 2007, President Umaru Musa Ya'radua of Nigeria outlined his development blueprint to Nigerians in what he described as seven-point agenda, geared towards vision 2020. The aim of the vision 2020 is to make Nigeria one of the twenty top/target developed economies in the world by the year 2020. Nigeria's population is predominantly youth, with young people under 35 years accounting for about 50 percent of the country's over one hundred and forty (140) million people (Federal Ministry of Youth Development, 2008). In the year 2020 these young people will be the key drivers of the economy and will be the leaders in business and public services. The 18 year old of today will be 30 years in 2020; the 28 year olds will be 40 years in 2020 whereas the 38 year olds will be 50 years in 2020.

There is no doubt that the level of development in a country is directly proportional to the literacy level. The literacy rate of Nigeria dropped from 62 percent in 1992 to 52 percent in 2006. This implies that the illiteracy rate in the country is 48 percent. It also means that rather than improving on the literacy rating, Nigeria keeps on retrogressing (Olanrewaju, 2008). Most of the problems we have in this country are traceable to the high rate /level of illiteracy. Look at the issue of vandalisation for instance. Anyone who is knowledgeable enough to know that when he cuts an electricity wire he also suffers the consequences of lack of electricity along with others will think twice before he embarks on destroying electricity cables. The same thing goes for being healthy. If a person can read and write, he will most certainly be able to avoid certain things that can harm him. He will be able to get information from different sources on what to do to be healthy. He will know how to take care of himself to stay healthy. The nation benefits from this because it is only those who are healthy that can contribute to the development of the country. The fact remains that unless a solution is found to the dwindling reading habit of Nigerians, the country will continue to battle with underdevelopment. …

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