As part of efforts to enhance basic education and literacy in the country, the Rotary Club of Lagos, in collaboration with Quramo Publishing Limited, has launched the READ Project to promote the reading culture among primary school pupils.
Though the initiative, the oganisation plans to take thousands of books to 20 schools in 20 local government areas in Lagos and Ogun States over 20 weeks. It noted that items like the internet, books and laboratories are far more important in the education of a child because over 40 per cent of expenditure goes to bricks and mortar which do not specifically improve a child’s education.
“The average western child has access to about 13 books at any given point in time. In sharp contrast, there is an average of 300 African children to every one book. The READ initiative aims to be one of the single largest redistribution of books ever done in Nigeria.”
While stressing the importance of reading, the President of the club, Mrs. Modupe Sasore, said the most basic form of learning takes place through reading. “It is a basic tool in education and a very important skill in everyday life. Reading is best taught before and at the primary school level.”
She said the project is aimed at creating create keen interest in children to read regularly, adding that once the interest is ignited in children, they become prolific readers and would desire to read unceasingly.
The Project Manager, Ms. Omowunmi Segun, regretted that since the economic collapse in Nigeria in the 80s, there has been a steady decline in the reading culture mainly because of the prohibitive cost of books.
“In recent years, the situation has been further compounded by the inordinate amount of time which young people devote to social media, Nollywood movies and other forms of entertainment.
“This lack of a reading culture which is pervasive in the country has resulted in low literacy levels and given rise to a new generation of illiterates for whom there are very few opportunities if any to acquire the kind of skills that can improve their lives and keep them out of poverty.”
She said the books that would be distributed to schools would be acqui
red through purchase and donations and would be mainly story books and simple readers, as these are the kind of books that expand the minds and stretch the imagination of children to be able to innovate, make discoveries and invent things in future.
“Children between the ages of seven and nine in 20 schools in 20 local government areas will be the recipients of these books. It is expected that each recipient will initially own one book but have access to five or more books through exchange of books among recipients. We also expect these books to be shared with family and friends and to exchange as many hands as the binding will permit.”
Segun added that the presentation of books at the selected schools would be by a delegation of Rotarians, adding that celebrities from the entertainment and business world who can be role models for children will be invited to read and share stories from the books they read and enjoyed as children.
“This way, children will learn that reading for pleasure and achieving success in life go hand in hand.”