By Solomon Umanah
Worried by the declining rate of reading among students in the secondary and tertiary institutions across the country, stakeholders have been urged to invest more of their resources and time in the education of the younger generations.
The commissioner for women affairs and social welfare, Dr Ini Adiakpan, who made the call, Friday, during the celebration of Year 2022 International Reading Day in Uyo, reasoned that such investment could be through sponsoring of the construction and equipping of libraries in schools where none existed, establishment of education endowment fund for indigent students who have no access to funds for purchase of relevant books or other library facilities, as well as training and retraining of teachers.
Adiakpan, who described reading as one of the oldest habits that had existed for several years before the advent of movies, traditional and social media, listed its benefits to be expansion of individual’s memory capacity, exposure to vocabulary, creativity, skills and discipline, pointing out that, “a creative and exciting reading culture not only breeds capable and committed readers, it equally boosts individual wellbeing, as well as community development”.
She, however, expressed regret over the rapid decline in reading culture among students and other persons in the society, attributing the development to the overwhelming influence and growth of technology, stressing, “a situation where majority of people, particularly young ones want everything instantly done without taking the pains to obtain them, leaves much to be desired, adding, “the cravings for instant messages, e-learning, fast delivery of virtually everything has further compounded the issue. Whereas,reading an actual book makes one calm, concentrated, and patient which no e-book can afford.
The women affairs boss lauded Gov Udom Emmanuel for maintaining the policy of free and compulsory education from primarily to secondary school levels in public schools in the state, saying the administration had equally equipped the various schools with state-of-the-art facilities such as libraries, laboratories, modern classroom blocks with well trained teaching staff with a view to inculcating the reading culture in the students thereby improving teaching and learning.
While urging the students to make judicious use of the facilities provided for them by the state government, Adiakpan thanked the leadership and members of the South-South Professional Women Association (SSPWA) for collaborating with the state government in the task of providing educational support to students through donation of books and other learning materials, expressing the hope that the gesture which, she observed, coincided with the theme of the event, “Gift-a-Child-a-Book,” will enhance reading culture among students in the state.
Earlier in her welcome address, the pioneer chairperson and trustee of SSPWA, Professor Eno Ituen, said the event tagged, “Gift-A-Child-A-Book,” was an annual event usually celebrated by her organization as part of activities for the World Book Day as declared globally by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on April 23rd, every year, since 1995, pointing out thatSSPWA had equally adopted the event as an annual project for donation of books to children at primary and secondary school levels in various states of Nigeria.
Ituen expressed appreciation to the state government, through the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Welfare, for supporting the hosting of the event, and described SSPWA as a non-profit and non-political group of professional women from the South-South zone of the country “whose major objective is to advocate, intervene, interact, exchange ideas, educate and empower women and girls” in the zone.
She said the association also served as a veritable platform for gender advocacy, community development, as well asfor women and girls education, among others, pointing out that Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Edo and Rivers States were the focal points of the body where many lives had been impacted positively through their activities.
Also speaking, the chairperson of South-South Professional Women Association, Professor Edna Akpan, said the association had so far donated over 200 books to the libraries of some schools in the state, namely, West Itam Secondary School, Itu; Comprehensive Secondary School, Four Towns, Uyo; Community Secondary School, Ibiaku Itam; Community Secondary Commercial School, Ikot Okubo, Uyo, among others.
She said her group had equally spearheaded the establishment of Readers Clubs in the benefiting schools as a way of inculcating reading habit in the students.
The event, which drew students from various schools across the state, climaxed with the presentation of books and certificates of participation to the participating schools, as well as presentation of excellence award to the SSPWAadvisor and commissioner for women affairs and social welfare, Dr Ini Adiakpan.