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Need to address pupils’ poor reading culture

EDUCATION TALK with TIMOTHY KAMBILIMA
THE poor reading culture among our school boys and girls is a source of great concern. It is disheartening to see pupils at both junior and secondary school levels struggle to read simple sentences.
Our pupils have no time to read novels, magazines and even newspapers because they are pre-occupied with other things such as listening to music and watching movies on television.
This poor reading culture is undoubtedly contributing to pupils’ failure to answer simple questions set by examiners during final examinations at both grade nine and 12 levels.
It is sad to note that most of our pupils would most times have the teacher reading a text than them being asked to read for either comprehension or pleasure. The negative attitude by majority of our pupils towards reading should come to an end.
For our country to have good leaders, we need to have good readers in our education system. Our pupils need to cultivate the love and desire for reading a variety of books, magazines, newspapers and other readable materials.
We need school boys and girls who are ready and very much willing to read. It is very easy for pupils who are able to read on their own to pass examinations at any level.
Apart from passing examinations, pupils that have interest in reading will be equipped with the necessary knowledge that will enable them make informed decisions in life.
Because of the same poor reading culture among our school boys and girls spilling over into our society, it is unfortunate that we now have young men and women who have completed senior secondary school education but cannot fill in a simple form because they fail to read and understand what is written on the form.
It is important for our pupils to develop interest in reading because this helps them broaden their knowledge so much that no one can cheat them in life.
Let us remember that knowledge is power and it can only come through reading a good number of books both in and outside school. We need to bring back the good reading culture that we had in the past if our pupils are to become good readers. We also need to seriously encourage our pupils to have a positive attitude towards reading for them to become good readers.
There are several ways in which we can change the poor culture of reading among our pupils. One of such ways is to give pupils some reading tasks at classroom level. This can be done at the beginning or end of a lesson.
At school level, an interclass reading competition can be organised, and the boys and girls who excel at reading can be rewarded with educational materials to motivate them.
This can ultimately encourage other pupils to develop interest in reading. The other way of improving the reading culture among our pupils is for teachers at pre-school and primary school levels to build a strong foundation for reading by introducing teaching in our local languages from grades one to four.
Parents are also crucial stakeholders in as far as encouraging school boys and girls to develop interest in reading is concerned. Parents should always find time to encourage children to read a variety of publications. A good 30 minutes spent on reading a book or a newspaper with a child at home is a well expended time.
Further as parents, we need to include on our budgets reading materials for our children. We should remember that investing in reading materials for children is not a loss but a gain.
If we all put our heads together, we are going to have a Zambia with a well enlightened population through an improved reading culture.
Schools should also ensure that libraries, be it small or big, are created and all pupils must be encouraged to be members of such libraries.
With proper monitoring and supervision, our pupils will be able to use libraries as great sources of information, and the poor reading culture among pupils will be a thing of the past.
In Zambia, it seems we glorify pupils who are able to speak fluently but cannot read. I happened to witness this one day when I was on a minibus where there were two school girls speaking in English so well that I got impressed.
However, when I asked one of them to read the headline in the newspaper I had, I got a shock of my life as both girls struggled to read just a simple newspaper headline. At last they just gave up and the rest is history.
Parents, teachers and pupils all have a major role to play in inculcating a positive reading culture in our many learners in the country. Let us perform this noble role.
timothykambilima@yahoo.com
0972 637485/0968 537064

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