Former Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission, Prof Peter Okebukola, has urged schools from basic to tertiary levels to inculcate in their learners the culture of reading via Information and Communication Technology (ICT) gadgets. This, according to him, is one of the ways a decline in reading culture among children and youths can be arrested.
Okebukola said parents, teachers and government all continue to complain about crashing reading culture, without acknowledging the fact that physical books are fast fading into extinction, and are becoming less attractive to children of nowadays.
The former executive secretary delivered a keynote address at the annual conference/AGM of the Nigerian Publishers Association which held at Sheraton Hotel, Ikeja, last Thursday. It was themed: Functional national book policy: A catalyst for educational development
Okebukola said due to their schooldays experience, most parents erroneously believe ‘reading from books’ alone is the only way by which knowledge can be acquired.
He said: “Reading culture does not necessarily mean reading books because that’s what people really think should be the trend.
“But many of our children use this gadget that we have. So if we are able to put contents in their handheld devices, then it would help to stimulate their reading culture.
And if we have programmes in the school system that will push the children to read, that would also help to some extent. In another 20 years, you are hardly going to get physical books because they would have been like relics. The world is moving fast towards digitalising the resources.
“We have books and books everywhere, but people to read the books don’t have the appetite to do so.
So you have a reading culture that is depressing in Nigeria, and if this is not arrested, we just continue to get books flooding the market and the knowledge encoded in the books does not get translated. What we need to do from pre-primary up to university is to encourage the development of the teaching culture from students to teachers and even parents.
“To do this will include enhancing literacy level because you want to read only words you have the ability to. Our agencies at the federal and state levels that are concerned with promoting literacy should also strive to see how reading culture can be promoted.
As former NUC boss 17 years ago, Okebukola said the commission saw the phenomenon of e-books and journals coming; hence mandated universities nationwide to have e-libraries in addition to physical libraries that would grant their students access to academic materials online.
He, therefore, urged NPA to be wary of this phenomenon and therefore be proactive.
“These people are yet to catch up with the reality but the circumstances of the future will compel them the change because ebooks will be the vogues as the student will prefer reading through ICT-devices,” Okebukola added.
The high point of the event is the unveiling of the books exhibition
Earlier President of NPA Mr Gbadega Adedapo, described the body established 52 years ago, as a confluence between the government and citizenry in providing quality educational materials to the populace as well as promote and protect publishers.
According to him, the theme of the conference was based on the exposure the body has witnessed over the years and how same experience has affected development in education with its consequent effect on the economy.
He said NPA would continue to seek implementation of functional book policy in the further development of the sector.
“There are myriads of problems still encompassing the book publishing industry such as book piracy which has degenerated into mistrust among stakeholders as well as the availability of raw materials and equipment to process it. We are optimistic about the fact that functional book policies if implemented would solve some of these problems. On that note, we need the full support of our government,” he concluded.