By Christine Onwuachumba
Caleb British International School, Abijo GRA, Lekki, Lagos, has turned out the first beneficiary in 2017 of the UBA Foundation Read Africa Project, an initiative aimed at rekindling the reading culture amongst African youths through the donation of African literary classics to students as well as having mentoring sessions with senior management staff from the UBA Group.
Recently, the students of the school had the privilege of sharing a reading session with the MD/CEO, UBA Foundation, Ijeoma Aso, whose interactive session with them included reading excerpts from Nnedi Okoroafor’s, What Sunny Saw In The Flame.
Linda Olumese, the Principal of the college, in her opening remark debunked the age-old myth of Africans being non- or low-readers of books, with the assertion that in her younger days her generation of teenagers were avid readers of Mills and Boons series, Pacesetters and African Writers Series.
Aso who started her motivational talk with emphasis on the importance of reading, asked students for the titles of books they had read outside school-mandated texts, summaries of the reading, and the moral lessons from the books.
“Now is the time to read,” she admonished the students. “As you grow older there is hardly time. What you read now serves as the basis of your knowledge bank. Books enrich and open up your imaginations. They take you to places you have never been before. Read books that can expand your horizon. You are at a stage when your characters are formed, when you try to understand what is right from what is wrong. So books that teach life lessons or how to conduct yourself are really good books to read.”
She gave the students rules for reading books outside their school-recommended texts: “First take it to your teacher and ask, ‘is this book the right book for me? Should I read it?’,” she said. “A book you cannot read in the public, that your parent or teacher must not see you reading, or that you have to be somewhere away from other people to read is not a good book.”
Her other nuggets of advice include finding or creating the time to read. “After doing your schoolwork and chores, you have spare time,” she observed. “You can choose between reading a book and watching TV. Reading should be the obvious choice.” Her pep talk was followed by a question-and-answer session.
Subsequently, she distributed free copies of the UBA-provided book, What Sunny Saw In The Flame, to every student and staff present at the event. This was followed by a reading session in which students randomly read excerpts from the book while she corrected them on their pace of reading and pronunciation. She also asked them to observe the use of punctuations such as period and coma.
She concluded her engagement by charging the students to read in a month at least one book that is not part of their school-recommended texts. At that rate, they would have read 12 non-curriculum books at the end of the year.
Olumese described the exercise as nostalgic, adding that it brings back memories of when she was younger and used to read popular books of her generation.
She outlined the steps taken by the institution to stimulate and strengthen reading culture among students. She also mentioned reading classes, spelling bee competition and dramatization of stories adapted from books.
Lucy Omoregie, the school’s Public Relations Officer expressed her hope that the event will really impact on the children and help in rekindling the spirit of reading among them.
Speaking on the aim of the Read Africa Project, Aso said the UBA’s CSR is targeted at rekindling the reading culture among the African youths. She pointed out that the message is not only for children, but also for parents to see the imperative of encouraging their children to read.
At the end of the session, Caleb British International School presented a plaque to UBA Foundation in recognition of its contribution to education in Nigeria. Beside the book, What Sunny Saw in the Flame, every student also got a bag with a UBA imprint.