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An assessment of reading culture among students in Nigerian tertiary institution--a challenge to educational managers.

The paper examined the reading culture among students in tertiary institutions in Nigeria, following the general feeling that reading culture had become a missing link in the Nigeria's educational development. A stratified random sampling method was used to select the 10 universities that participated in the study. The federal government owned four of the universities, three were state universities and three were private universities. The instrument used in gathering the data was a questionnaire titled Student Reading Habit Inventory (SRHI) designed by the researcher. The experts in the area verified the validity of the instrument. The reliability was done using Pearson Product Moment Correlation that was .67 and the final Spearman-Brown formula yielded 0.80 which showed the instrument was reliable. A Z-test and common percentage were the statistics used. The major findings were: that there was a high decline rate in the reading culture among the students in the tertiary institution; that 60% of students read prescribed textbooks only during examination period; that browsing and watching television have taken most of students' time for reading and that only 21% of students buy novels to read for knowledge and pleasure. Based on the above, a major recommendation that a compulsory course for all students on reading should be introduced in the university.

Introduction

The high demand for elimination of illiteracy has in various forms elicited response from the Nigerian Government. This has resulted in the government declaration of Universal Primary Education (UPE) in 1976 and the Universal Basic Education (UBE) in 2003 which has increased the enrolment from 24.8 million in year 2000 to 28.4 million in 2004 (Emovon, 2006). The focus and objectives of education are to develop natural talents to enhance the quality of environment; production of skilled manpower and generation of knowledge necessary for modern economy; inspiring and enabling individuals to develop capacities to the highest level throughout life so that they can grow intellectually and contribute effectively to society; creating learning society necessary for participation in a world undergoing phenomenal change; inculcation of the right attitude and values for fostering a democratic and civilized society, and finally, to increase knowledge and understanding for their own sake and foster their application for the benefit of the economy. The achievements of the roles of education mentioned above pose a big challenge for the academicians.

Reading according to Moyle (1969) is thinking the thoughts that a writer is communicating to his readers by way of the written or printed words. Suleiman and Crossman (1980) defined reading as interactive not passive. They viewed reading as sense making, an act of becoming--where new questions, insights and understandings that were once held are subject to modification, re-interpretation and even dismissal. Reading can also be seen as a psycholinguistic process involving the interaction of languages and thought as language is decoded and meaning is reconstructed. The importance of good reading culture cannot be over-emphasized. It provides individual's welfare, social progress and international understanding; provides skill, knowledge and right attitude; frees one from boredom or idleness, etc. Reading is not just for school but also for life. It enhances the chances of success at school and beyond. The relationship of reading ability to scholastic success is not open to dispute. Achievement in reading is necessary to achievement in school. When a poor reader makes no provision for achievement, he eventually is frustrated into a miserable state of failure.

Some of the disadvantages of poor reading culture are high failure rate, increase in students' drop out rate, continuous high rate of unskilled manpower, poverty, frustration, loss of self esteem, illiteracy, etc.

There is a general feeling that many Nigerian students do not like reading. Many teachers often complain about the poor reading habit among their students which can have implication on the personal and intellectual development. Edomwandagbon (2005) held tenaciously to the view that if students who were preparing for both internal and external examination avail themselves of facilities in the various Libraries, read their notes and text books diligently, the incidence of cheating, impersonation and examination malpractice and cultism will be greatly reduced. In 2001, according to Omo-Ojugo (2005), the World Bank in conjunction with the Nigerian Institute for Social and Economic Research, Ibadan produced a grim report on the Nigerian graduate which has confirmed the fears of educators, parents, employers and the general public about the degeneration of the country's education. The report revealed that the average graduate who leaves a university or polytechnic with a degree or certificate is not worth the qualification, which he is supposed to have. The report concluded by saying that the average Nigerian graduate lacks technical skill, has a poor command of English, is poorly trained and largely unemployable. Harold (2001) opined that lack of vibrant reading culture among Nigerians has been many a publisher's nightmare for a long time in the country. Poverty, illiteracy and high cost of books were fingered as being responsible for this. Obafemi (2006) opined that the poor reading culture among Nigerians was due to economy that was prostate, reading was expensive and had become a leisure most people could ill afford. Also, the in-thing according to him was that people prefer to stay in their homes and watch home videos.

Commeyras (2001) brought to the public awareness, the pathetic situation for the average Nigerian hungry for knowledge but incapacitated by economic and social inhibitions. She recommended an anthropological approach to the concept of reading, meaning the examination of the larger existing culture in which reading is to be promoted. This is because, according to her, it has been acknowledged that there may be values in the larger culture that interfere with the culture of reading that is being promoted. Nigerians like talking and interacting socially when they are in the company of one another. Reading is individualistic in nature and is bound to meet with certain difficulties since Africans find it idle and boring.

Statement of the Problem

The general feeling that poor reading habit among Nigerian students is getting out of control is very terrifying and infuriating. The high failure rate in examinations, the increase in student dropout rate, the production of half-baked graduates, etc, are all affecting the country socially, economically and politically. The Government effort in fighting illiteracy is being thwarted by the students who do not read neither their prescribed textbooks nor for pleasure. The much needed manpower which the tertiary institutions are supposed to produce fall beyond required standard because of the students' nonchalant attitude towards their studies with regard to reading. Many students, who would have contributed immensely if properly trained, drop out because of poor performance due to inadequate preparation for their examinations. This study is thus dedicated to the clarification of the status of the reading culture among students in tertiary institutions in Nigeria and those factors militating against viable reading culture in the tertiary institutions.

The following leading questions are raised to guide the study:

1. What is the status of reading culture in Nigeria tertiary institutions?

2. Do students have variety of books to select from?

3. Is there any compulsory reading course in the curriculum of tertiary institutions?

4. How many hours does an average student spend weekly on leisure reading?

5. Are there good furnished libraries in the tertiary institutions?

6. Do students make good use of the libraries?

7. Do institutions have trained Reading Specialists?

8. How many hours does an average student spend daily reading recommended text books?

9. What factors militate against good reading habit in Nigerian tertiary institutions?

10. Does the location of tertiary institution affect the reading culture?

Hypotheses

The following null hypotheses are raised to guide the study:

HO1 There will be no significant difference on the status of reading culture of students in the tertiary institutions as perceived by male and female students.

HO2 There will be no significant difference on the reading culture of students based on gender.

HO3 There will be no significant difference on the reading culture of students as perceived by lecturers and students.

Significance of the Study

As Nigeria strives to achieve growth and development in economic, social and political sectors of the economy, it is imperative that students, who are the future leaders, should be prepared to take over the burden of continuous national development. The government will benefit because good reading culture will lead to success in the students' training programme. Economically, this will lead to the production of qualified manpower that will contribute positively towards the National Income of the country. The standard of living of the various students also would increase. Politically, the country would have vibrant electorates who will participate fully in the governance of the country. Socially, the students would not be social nuisance rather they will contribute positively to the growth of the culture. Good reading culture would make the students to achieve more and thereby boosting their self esteem. The misplaced priorities of cultism, prostitution and other criminal acts would be curtailed. The students would be more law abiding. The tertiary institutions would have peaceful and orderly environment that would be conducive to effective teaching and learning. The tertiary institutions' authorities would be happy to turn out citizens who would be found worthy in character and in learning as they confer on the graduands with various academic honors.

Methodology

The research design used was ex post facto design. The treatment is included by selection rather than by manipulation. The population of the study consisted of all second year students in Nigerian Universities. A stratified random sampling was used to select 10 universities that participated in the study. The federal government owned 4 of the universities, 3 were owned by the state government and 3 were private universities. One thousand students were randomly selected from each federal and state universities because of their populations while 500 students were randomly selected from each of the private universities to participate in the study. The sample was made up of 8500 students (4,800 males and 3,700 females).Eight hundred and fifty lecturers were also randomly selected to participate in the study.

The researcher constructed the structured questionnaire with items drawn from relevant data titled Student Reading Culture Inventory (SRCI). The first part of the questionnaire was demographic while the second part reflected on reading culture among the students. The third part was on the availability of those things that can motivate the student to read while the fourth part was on the personal goal setting and goal achievement. In addition to filling the questionnaire, some of the participants were also randomly interviewed.

For the validity of the questionnaire, the researcher gave the questionnaire to three experts in the field. Based on their advice, some items were restructured, while irrelevant areas were eliminated. In some cases some items were added. To establish the level of reliability, the questionnaire was administered personally to I00 respondents. These respondents were excluded from the main study. The Split-Half method was used. The correlation coefficient was corrected by the use of Spearman-Brown formula. The Pearson Product Moment Correlation was .67 and the final Spearman Brown formula yielded 0.80. This shows that the instrument was reliable. The Z-test and common percentage were the statistical method used. The four point scale was arranged, allowing for the scoring to be 0-1.09 very poor, 1.10-2.09 poor, and 2.10-3.09 average 3.10-4 good.

Results

HO1 The data drawn from the questionnaire was used to test the first null hypothesis that states: There will be no significant difference on the status of reading culture of students in tertiary institution as perceived by the male and female students.

From Table 1, the calculated Z-value at 0.05-confidence level was 1.93 while the table value was 1.96. The null hypothesis is therefore accepted. There is no significant difference between the responses of male and female students as to the status of reading culture among the students. Both male and female students strongly agreed that there was a poor reading culture among the students.

Ho2 In testing the second hypothesis, which states: there will be no significant difference on in the reading culture of students based on gender, the data was collected from the questionnaire as in Table 2.

From Table 2, the calculated Z-value at 0.05-confidence level was 1.17 while the table value was 1.96. The null hypothesis that there will be no significant difference in the reading culture of students based on gender is accepted. Both the male and female students agreed that the reading culture was poor. According to them, browsing and watching television had taken most of their time for reading. They saw browsing and television watching as more fun than reading. According to them, reading meant straining of the eyes and also found to be strenuous while browsing and watching television were more relaxing. Sixty percent of female students as opposed to 53% of male students however, would like to read novels if there were interesting and affordable ones. Forty-five percent of female students as opposed to 56% of male students read their prescribed textbooks along with the lecturers while 54% of female students as opposed to 49% of male students read only during the examination.

HO3 The third null hypothesis which states that there will be no significant difference in the reading culture of students as perceived by lecturers and students was analyzed as in Table 3.

From Table 3, the calculated Z-value at 0.05-confidence level was 4.73 while the Table value was 1.96. The null hypothesis is therefore rejected. There is a significant difference in the students' reading culture as perceived by the lecturers and the students. Eighty-four percent of the lecturers as opposed to 57% of students strongly agreed that the reading culture was becoming hopeless (very poor) and needed urgent intervention of all concerned with the training of young minds. The remaining 16% of lecturers as opposed to 47% of students agreed that the students were reading at a poor rate and needed to read more. The researcher further randomly interviewed the lecturers, these complained that many students were not focused and hated reading. However, it was noted that there was a correlation between the location of the university and the students' reading culture. Six universities sited in the urban areas had very poor reading culture as opposed to four universities sited in the rural areas with an average reading habit culture.

Questions

1. What is the status of reading culture in Nigerian Tertiary Institutions?

87% of respondents agreed that it was poor while 13% agreed it was average.

2. Do students have variety of books to select from?

97% of the respondents agreed that the books were few and expensive.

3. Is there any compulsory Reading Course in the curriculum of tertiary institutions? 100% agreed that there was none.

4. How many hours does an average student spend weekly on leisure reading?

An average male student spent 35 minutes while an average female student spent 54 minutes. This was mainly on daily newspapers.

5. Is there a furnished library in the institution?

92% agreed that the library was there but ill equipped and poorly furnished.

6. Do students make good use of library?

51% agreed that the library was well used but 49% responded that the library was substandard and so not always used.

7. Does the institution have trained Reading Specialists?

89% of the respondents were negative in their responses while 11% were positive. Those who responded positively when further interviewed whether they had seen one. They responded that since there was an English Department, they guessed there would be one.

8. How many hours does an average student spend daily reading recommended textbooks?

An average male student spent 40 minutes while and average female student spent 36 minutes. Most of the books recommended were never in the library or available and affordable to purchase.

9. What factors militate against good reading habit in the institution?

Poor feeding, poor accommodation, books were expensive, poverty, browsing, television viewing, socializing, not being focused and inadequately furnished library.

10. Does the location of the university affect the reading culture?

From the data collected six universities sited in the urban areas had poor reading culture while 4 universities sited in the rural areas had average reading culture.

Conclusion

From the above, it could be seen that reading culture of the students has really fallen but there is hope to rescue it. Although it is below average, the state of decay can still be revived. An average female student spent more time on leisure reading than an average male student. The leisure reading was mainly daily newspaper and not novels. The average male student however spent more time on textbook reading than an average female student. Even the time spent on the readings was inconsequential, too little to really make a meaning out of it. This is a challenge to educational administrators and planners. There is no way a student can do well if he cannot put himself in the habit of constant reading.

The factors militating against good reading habit were also mentioned. These were hunger, inadequately furnished library, books were expensive, inadequate instructional facilities, poverty--many students take only a meal a day and this, according to them affect their general performance due to inadequate energy to read. Poor accommodation was also mentioned as a factor affecting the students' reading culture. If a room meant for two students ends up housing 8-10 students at night, the discomfort will certainly have chain effect. Because of constant power failure, the library is often hot and most of the reference books are not there. There is no Reading Course and the Reading Specialist are not employed.

Recommendations

Based on the findings above, the following recommendations are made to improve on the reading culture of students in the tertiary institutions:

There is need to include in curriculum a reading course for all students in the tertiary institution irrespective of the major areas of studies.

Lecturers should endeavor to give reading assignments. This should be evaluated by asking questions randomly to students in the class to know whether they have done their assignment or not.

Government should take more interest in education by providing necessary books at subsidized rate.

The University Presidents or Vice Chancellors should source fund from nongovernmental agencies, private sectors and philanthropists to provide more accommodation for students.

The indigent students should be given work study opportunity to enable them meet their psychological needs for better performance.

There should be provision of generators which should be in good conditions to take over when power fails.

Functioning computers should be provided so that students can get access to other libraries and publishers' databases.

Orientation courses, conferences, seminars and workshops should be organized for the students in order to create a much-needed awareness on the importance of good reading habit.

The mass media should create a wider awareness of good reading habit, which a child is expected to imbibe starting from home.

More studies should be done to assess the reading culture among the lecturers in the tertiary institutions.

References

Commeyras, N. (2001). Promoting a culture of reading. 4th Distinguished Lecture Series of Adeniran Ogunsaya College of Education. Otta/Ijanikan.

Edomwandegbon, E. (June, 2005). An address delivered by the Honorable Commissioner for Education on the occasion of the Institute of Continuing Education, Benin City first public lecture.

Emovon, E.U. (January, 2006). "A country at risk: need for excellence in education. University of Benin Convocation Lecture.

Harold, L. (October, 2001). For a vibrant reading culture. The Punch. Tuesday 16.

Moyle, D. (1969). The teaching of reading. London The Trinity Press.

Obafemi, O. (March 19, 2006). Why reading culture is declining. Sunday Sun, 48.

Omo-Ojugo (2005). Reading Culture = a missing link in Nigerian Educational Development.

First Institute of Continuing Education 2005 Public Lecture, Benin City.

Suleiman, S.R. / Crossman, I. (1980). The reader in the text. N.J.: Princeton University Press.

CHIKA JOSEPHINE A. IFEDILI (PHD)

Faculty of Education, University of Benin, Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria
Table 1 Summary Table for Test of Significant Difference
in Reading Culture as Perceived by Male and Female Students

                              Calculated    Table
Statistics   Male    Female     Z-Test      Value

Number       4,800   3,700
Mean         2.09    2.07       1.93        1.96
SD           .49     .46

Table 2 Summary Table on Test of Significant Difference
in Reading Culture of Students Based on Gender

                             Calculated    Table
Statistics   Male   Female     Z-Value     Value

Number       4800    3700
Mean         2.08    2.07       1.17        1.96
SD           .35     .42

Table 3 Test of Significant Difference in Students' Reading
Culture as Perceived by the Lecturers and Students

                                    Calculated    Table
Statistics   Lecturers   Students     Z-Value     Value

Number         850         8500
Mean           1.07        2.06       -4.73       1.96
SD             0.43        0.38
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Author:Ifedili, Chika Josephine A.
Publication:Reading Improvement
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:6NIGR
Date:Dec 22, 2009
Words:3472
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