Improve reading culture


ON OCTOBER 23, the Ministry of General Education suspended the Grade Seven, Nine and 12 examinations following confirmed reports of examination leakages.
This situation has raised concern among stakeholders in the education system as well as members of the public. In the wake of these developments, the biggest question is, what is making our pupils in examination classes source leakages? And what can be a lasting solution?
In a research carried out by Gladys Maheka, on Nature and causes of examination malpractices in selected secondary schools in Kitwe, she indicated that pupils opt to engage in exam malpractices due to lack of adequate preparations among other factors.
As examinations approach pupils know very well that they may not make it because they did not study enough hence the option to seek for leakages.
It is well appreciated that pupils may fail to adequately study due to a poor reading culture. Despite the increasing benefits of a reading culture, it is disheartening to note that a good reading culture is a missing link in our society.
Most pupils consume much of their time watching movies, interacting with friends on social media instead of cultivating a culture which increases memory, discipline, vocabulary, creativity and study skills.
The sustainable way of fighting against forms of examination malpractices among our pupils start with the promotion of a reading culture. A Reading culture refers to habitual and regular reading of books and information materials that are not necessarily required for one to advance in his profession or career but becoming a skilled adaptive reader, this enhances the chances of success at school and beyond.
South African anti –apartheid activist Walter Sisulu, opines that a good reading culture heightens the chances of success at school throughout a lifetime and enhances a high level of literacy needed to excel in examinations and provides skills needed to cope with challenges of the 21st century.
Pupils with a poor culture of reading are less likely to study and prepare adequately for their examination, Thus they prefer to take the risk of engaging in examination malpractice and in the process become addicted to it that they completely depend on this vice for academic achievement over the years.
It is therefore important for the Ministry of Education and all the key stockholders to immediately put up measures that promote the culture of reading in pupils for us to fight examination malpractices in future. This can be done by reviving the school library system.
The role of school libraries in promoting reading cannot be overemphasised.
Proper functioning school libraries provide a wide range of books and multimedia resources to support teaching and learning throughout the key stages.
This further fosters a reading and information culture that promotes independent motivated readers and learners for life.
However this purpose can only be served with well stocked and functioning school libraries managed by trained librarians to formulate and implement reading programs.
Apart from provision of reading materials, school libraries promote the development of reading skills and encourage long term learning habits through reading, listening and viewing a variety of learning materials. Reading habits form the key to continuous success in school as well as personal enrichment of pupils.
However the status of school libraries in Zambia is below that of the required standards set by the Ministry of Education to effectively promote a culture of reading.
To improve the standards of school libraries, the Ministry of Education should ensure that all schools been constructed plus those already in place should have properly established library buildings spacious enough to cater for the pupils’ population and with adequate library materials and other facilities in line with the set standards for school libraries. Mutinta Nabuyanda in her research dissertation on “Factors Inhibiting Promotion of a Reading Culture: A Study of Basic School Libraries in Lusaka” contends that the ministry’s inspectorate department should ensure that all schools are inspected at least three times a year as stipulated in the standard guidelines to ensure that libraries are functional and managed by qualified staff.
However the promotion of a reading culture among pupils is not only the responsibility of the schools and libraries but a responsibility of parents and guardians in homes were these pupils come from.
Once these pupils develop a good reading culture they will have the motivation to study and spend much of their time preparing for examinations, this will give pupils the confidence to write examinations without thinking of involving themselves in malpractices.
Improving the reading presents a long term solution to examination malpractices because reading pupils are studying pupils. Reading pupils develop skills and confidence necessary to enable them carryout their educational activities such as assignments, research projects and examinations with integrity hence reducing the desire for engagement into examination malpractices.
The author is a Lusaka based academic librarian.

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