Academic journal article Journal of Community Positive Practices

Reading Habits of Students in Higher Institutions: Reflections from Ethiopia

Academic journal article Journal of Community Positive Practices

Reading Habits of Students in Higher Institutions: Reflections from Ethiopia

Article excerpt

Introduction

Reading means plucking out all the subtle threads of meaning from sentences, paragraphs and pages and weaving them into your own personality (Sterl A., 1953). According to Goodman (1970), reading is a complex process by which a reader reconstructs, to some degree, a message encoded by a writer in graphic language. People read materials, which might help them, to learn more about their day to day activities, occupations or about their hobbies. Students use reading to acquire knowledge which is related to scholastic success; indeed, young people view this as the primary motive for reading.

Reading has been, thus, the passion of the greatest personalities of all times. Humans have been reading since ages and thus words of knowledge have been passed on, through generations. The reading habit influences the promotion of one's personal development, in particular and social progress, in general. Regular and systematic reading sharpens the intellect, refines the emotions, elevates the tastes and provides perspectives for one's living and, thereby, prepares a person for an effective participation in the social, religious, cultural and political life. Reading fires the imagination of the person and it adds new sight to eyes and new wisdom in mind. Reading also loads the mind with new software (Satija, 2002).

Because of all these important reasons, reading should be a habit. As Nssien (2008) points out, reading habit is the use of reading as a regular activity. It is the cultivation of an attitude and a possession of skills that make reading a pleasurable, regular and constant activity. Reading habit is identified as the single most important determinant of a student's success in education in our modern complex society.

In line with this, 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 a nation acts as a powerful barrier to development and international competitiveness. The economic, social and political health of a nation today depends on building literate citizens that are able to read widely and apply it practically for development (Kingsley, 2011). Canisius (2012) also notes that the cultivation of a reading culture, especially among the youth in tertiary institutions will boost their academic excellence and ultimately the growth in the prospects of their countries.

Although reading has all these significances, and to make it a habit is a good act for the development of a nation, the people of Africa are not good readers. In relation to this, Sangkaeo (1999) clearly states that "we are not a reading society in Africa, but chatting society, the background of learning through culture; the cultural habit of people ... prefer to listening and chatting more than reading' (p.2). Different factors affect the reading habits of the people. For instance, Abioye (2010b, p46) identifies globalization as one of the major challenges in effective reading. She argues further that the technology that has revolutionized communication resulting in globalization includes television, the internet, mobile phone and so on. Adenyinka (2007) also explains that inadequate book availability, lack of interesting children's literature, and watching television are identified as factors hindering pupils from developing reading habits. The increased influence of social media and other leisure time activities have made a significant impact on the reading habits.

The state of accessibility and availability for reading is very crucial in the context of African countries. The researcher could observe that students and lectures in Ethiopian higher institutions are losing interest. This set the motivation for conducting this study. My observations of reading habits and environments in Ethiopia, students' performance on in-class written or oral presentations, and home assignments demonstrate little reading experience. …

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