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Stakeholders chart ways to addressing poor reading, teaching culture at early grade in Kano

By Murtala Adewale, Kano
15 November 2021   |   2:40 am
The decline of reading culture at the early grade and its attendance implementation In the education system in Nigeria took centre stage at the just concluded national conference on Children's Books

The decline of reading culture at the early grade and its attendance implication In the education system in Nigeria took centre stage at the just concluded national conference on Children’s Books and the Teaching of Early Grade Reading in Nigeria.

The third annual conference organised by Nigeria Centre for Reading, Research and Development, Bayero University, Kano and the Florida State University, Tallahassee, USA with funding support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), drew participants in the education sub-sector, policymakers, publishers and critical stakeholders in teaching and learning.

The three days of intellectual discussion and exchange of ideas, evaluation and solution finding deliberation were largely devoted to promoting research and teaching effective reading skills in Nigeria, especially in the early grade.

Besides the ceremonial opening of the event, scholars from various tertiary institutions presented abstracts on Children’s Books and multiple areas of critical concern demanding urgent attention to prefer solutions to poor reading culture.

Major among areas dissected include Children’s Books and the development of the concept of print awareness, teaching of reading comprehension, teaching of phonemic awareness, the teaching of Oral language, teaching of reading fluency, the teaching of phonics, the teaching of vocabulary as well as the teaching of writing.

A lead paper presenter, Professor Ramlatu Jibir Daura, of the department of Arts and Social Science Education, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, dissected the challenges of reading at early grade from various perspectives to include deficiencies of the instructors, publishers and government.

In the paper titled: “Children’s Books as the foundation for the development of effective reading skills at the early grade level”, the Professor of education dwelled on the mental process that involves understanding symbols to arrive at meaning and complex activities hinged on perception and thought, the reading skills of decoding, phonological awareness, vocabulary acquisition as well as fluency, comprehension and motivation.

“Learning to read is one of the challenges that younger children face because of the many skills that are required in learning to read. The best way to encourage children to read more is to provide books that interest them.

“For children to master vocabulary, they need both direct and indirect instruction. Parents should therefore endeavour to supply books in their homes and read them out to their children at the appropriate time.

“3//*arly grade teachers should be trained to use multisensory approaches of sight, touch and sound to teach reading to their pupils. Book publishers should publish books that are meant to teach reading skills to children. They should publish the books with repetitions that will teach fluency and literature which appeals to children,” Professor Ramlatu said.

In his contribution, Executive Secretary, National Commission for Colleges Education (NCCE), Professor Paulinus Okwelle, described the conference as a veritable platform for the revival of shape declining in quality of teaching reading and reading skills among pupils in the country.

The NCCE boss who was represented by management staff, Lami Ishayah Dutse, attributed challenges bedeviling early grade education in the country to the wide range and multifaceted factors expressed optimism that the forum would come up with a workable solution to address the predicament.

Lami specific emphasised on centre learning teaching approach and provision of NCE as a minimum requirement for teaching in Nigeria as major stumbling blocks, however, disclosed the government plan to reverse the method.

She explained the move by her agency to return the teaching method to an activities base where teaching is made interactive and teachers facilitate teaching in the class.

An American fellow of academic management and director, Quality Assurance at Zamfara State Universal Basic Education, Dr. Musa Kanoma, suggested mainstreaming of government policies and ensuring strict implementation at state and local government levels.

Dr. Kanoma declared that challenges pervading the early grade level of education may persist provided government policies are not enforcement down to the grassroots. Specifically, the education administrator canvassed the establishment of national policy monitoring and implementation team across states and local government.

He also wanted the teachers to be held responsible for the performances of pupils, which he believed would change the attitude and reshape the model of knowledge transfer in the classroom.

Convener of the conference and director Nigeria Centre for Reading, Research and Development, Bayero University, Kano, Professor Ramlatu Garba explained that the 5th edition of the conference was dedicated to device intellectual solutions toward addressing poor reading culture among early grade level.

She said part of the activities of the centre towards building reading culture besides research and development include bringing scholars from far and near to deliberate on conventional challenges in the early grade level in the country.

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