Provost, College of Education, Akamkpa, in Cross River State, Prof Owan Enoh says nothing is wrong with about 89 per cent of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members not being able to read or write or communicate effectively in English Language.
In an interview with The Nation, Enoh said most of the corps members posted to his institution can hardly read and write, attributing the problem to a faulty foundation in the primary school.
He said: “There is what is called is learning blocks which means that if block one is shaky, block two and other blocks would be shaky too. Reading and writing are primarily primary school tasks and once a child in primary school cannot read and write and he goes to secondary school, he would be so ashamed to now concede that he cannot read and write. What he would be doing is to now find the easiest means to pass exams. Eventually, we end up with the sad situation we have now.”
To remedy the situation and contribute his quota, Eno said he runs a non-governmental organisation, Educational Standards Initiative (EDUSTAR) that distributes reading books to primary schools.
So far, he said EDUSTAR has distributed over 90, 000 reading books, titled, Reading Companion for Primary Schools, to 250 primary schools in Cross River in two batches.
Speaking after the second batch of donation in Calabar, he said: “What we decided to do is to set up an NGO like this to tackle the problem in partnership with the government. What we are seeing today is a follow up of what happened last year where we had 100 primary schools. We intervened and trained the teachers in those schools. We gave them the free books and because of the impact of that endeavour, we decided this year to increase the number to 250.
“We have about 250 primary schools we are intervening for 40, 000 pupils. What we are simply doing is to tell the teachers the easiest way to train their pupils on how to read and write. We give them the books free, let the pupils carry the books home so they can have time to play with the books, so by the time they come to school the following day, they might have learnt one or two other words or concepts of pronunciation and with time once they develop interest they key into the process of knowing how to read and write. It is not about long lectures, methodology and the rest. It is about interest, consistency and devotion and they will be able to read and write.
“Our children are not dull. They seem dull because we have failed to give them the required foundation from primary school. Once a child is good in the primary school, even in the secondary school he can take a book and read on his own.”
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