By Vivian Onyebukwa
The International Association of Lions Clubs, District 404B1, Nigeria, conducted its Reading Action Programme (RAP), a reading session, as part of the series of events scheduled to implement this Lions year.
The RAP is an initiative of the Lions Club International, which focuses on improving the reading and literacy rate among individuals and communities. Lions, through this initiative, deliberately take concrete steps to bring hope for a brighter and more fulfilling future to millions of people all over the world.
Five schools, including Government Senior College, Agege, Girls Senior High School, Agege, and Government Comprehensive Junior College, Iyana Ipaja, participated at the event. Venue was Government Senior College, Agege, Lagos. The programme featured a reading session where role models from different fields read selected books to the students. The students, thereafter, took part in the reading exercise. The reading panelists included Kayode Samuel, former Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Ogun State, Callys Alumona, commander, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Lagos State, who was represented by Titilayo Ogunluyi, Busola Faiga-Opeolu, ace broadcaster, Ololade Ogunjobi, an author, writer and motivational teacher, and Munachi Mbonu, a teenage author.
The RAP chairperson, Ibiba Odili, described it as one of the initiatives of Lions Club International to ensure that reading and literacy rates are increased in the community to ensure that economic and societal development is adequate.
Odili decried the lack of reading culture among Nigerians, especially the young ones, while mentioning some of the reasons for lack of interest in reading. “There is a lot of distractions and it is caused by a lot of factors such as internet and no extra curricula activities in school. Parents, too, are ignoring the parental responsibilities to monitor their children’s academic progress. So all of these and many other factors have made reading culture to significantly reduce in the young ones of today.”
According to Lucy Omoaka, Director, Core Curricular Science/Tech Department, Education District One, Agege, Lagos, who was at the event, asking children to read these days is like punishing that child. “But with what they have seen today, they now know that it is important to read and that they can get to that peak they want to, just by reading. They can save their lives too by reading.
Fourteen- year- old teenage author with three published books, Munachi Mbonu, who was among the panelists, attributed lack of reading culture to ignorance and inadequate reading.
Mbonu said: “Not enough children read. Some people are not even fortunate to get books, but I write to encourage that and go around Nigeria selling my books for people to read and get inspired by what they can do”.
Munachi, an SSI student of Atlantic Hall School, Epe, Lagos, who started writing at the age of seven, plans to become a medical surgeon as well as a writer.
“I write to improve and encourage the reading culture in Nigeria,” she added.
Ogunjobi also stated that the essence of the programme was to sensitise the people on why they should read and learn as human beings. “Today’s children don’t read because they don’t know the importance of reading. “There is nothing like a child does not like to read, but because the child has not found the right book. Secondly, some parents don’t encourage their children to read,” she remarked.
There event also featured a spelling bee where the first three winners were rewarded with gifts. Literature books were equally donated to the libraries of the five schools housed within the school complex.
At the end of the spelling bee, Akinwande Dolapo, a JSS3 student of the Girls Senior High School, Agege, came first. Akinwande, who said she would like to be a soldier, expressed happiness, saying: “I never thought I would come first because I saw people who were ahead of me. But I had in mind that whatever seniors can do, juniors can also do even better.”
She won N25,000, a bag, water bottle and a story book. “I thank the organisers for allowing me to be part of the spelling bee competition. It was a great privillege. They should continue with the good work’, she added.
Jumat Aminat of Girls Senior High School, Agege, took the second position. She went home with N15,000 and other learning materials.
Adele Taiwo of Government Comprehensive Junior College, Iyana Ipaja, came third. She got N10,000 and other gifts. Taiwo, who is the head girl of her school, said: “I used to be nervous during competitions, but this one has given me confidence. Next time, I will work harder. I am not discouraged.”
The organisers also decided to reward punctuality. The sum of N25,000 was given to two of the schools for punctuality. They were Government Senior College, Agege, who arrived first, and Girls Senior High School, Agege, who came second to the venue of the event.