Sun, 19 Feb 2017 11:19:21 +0000




Zambia education system should find a way of improving on reading culture among learners or else the current poor reading culture might reverse the prevailing socio-economic national development processes this country is now going through.

Former South African president, late Nelson Mandela said: ‘Education is a key to change the world.’ But one can argue that it’s not just any type and any level of education that changes the world. It’s level and quality of formal education that rapidly and positive changes the world to be a better place to live in.

Primary, secondary and tertiary education operates at different levels with different approaches in some cases. And each of such has its own qualifications to facilitate progress to the next stage.

 Therefore, it’s high quality of formal education proved by high articulation of issues affecting society that can be used to change the world for the better. And this is where good reading culture plays a critical role.

Improved reading culture does not only facilitate effective comprehension skills from a written text but is also aids improved knowledge and skills in word selection, spellings and grammar. It also helps one to improve on clarity of expression both orally and in writing.

With good reading culture and high comprehension skills, writing effective letters, reports, minutes, project proposals and many other business letters can enjoyable with favourable feedback.

In Zambia, we have a situation where most people are very good at spoken English language with good western countries’ English accent; but whose vocabulary, spellings, and grammar, among others, are too limited for the perceived fluency and accent in that language. Poor reading culture causes such. Such a view can be proved by low quality of our social and business communication skills. We need to improve on our reading culture.

Improved reading culture brings many benefits to a reader. One learns a lot from various textbooks and other publication from good reading culture. Not only does one learn the above mentioned elements but one also increases his or her knowledge on many other things through reading widely. This implies that good reading culture also facilitates wide research.

Wide research increases one’s knowledge. And some communication experts have said knowledge is power.

Through wide reading on various school curricula topics, one also learns many other things which create more knowledge, strategies and tactics on how to prevent certain negative situations from happening to you; and in the process, one is equipped with and is able to exploit many opportunities our country offers or might offer in future.

The current reading culture where most learners; including some students in higher learning institutions just scan on mobile phones or on any website address to get direct notes which anyone regardless of his or her professional status wrote can be dangerous to academic writing and professional advancement.

At any level of learning, a learner is supposed to show high levels of articulation of what is or has been learnt. Merely reproducing what someone else wrote is plagiarism. This is common in most colleges and universities.

Wikipedia defines plagiarism as wrongful ‘appropriation’ and ‘stealing and publication’ of another author’s ‘language, ideas, or expressions’; and representation of such as one’s own origin work.

 Yale University defines plagiarism as use of another’s work, words, or ideas without attributing; which includes using a source’s language without quoting, using information from a source without attribution and paraphrasing a source in a form that stays too close to the original. Plagiarism is academic dishonest and a breach of professional ethics(op. cit).

Demonstrate active and full learning on what you are studying or reading through explaining and giving local examples to others on what you are elucidating. Such proves effective reading culture.

Such views spring from the fact that most, school leavers, for example, graduate with very good grades such as distinctions, merits or credits. But among majority of such graduates, their spellings, grammar and composition writing skills are poor! Their articulation of what they learnt is also poor.

Wide research through good reading culture facilitates creative thinking. Creative thinking breeds clear expression of ideas and generating innovations. With wide reading, one can come up with many other personal, family, organisational and national development strategies to address current and future challenges.

From such a view, one can argue that most socio-cultural and economic challenges we face personally and as a nation are products of poor reading culture.

Through good reading culture, one increases his or her formal education. You might be called someone who is ‘educated’. A development expert, Robert Chambers said to be educated is to be able to contribute to solving society’s problems. Therefore, good reading culture is beneficial both to individuals and to majority citizens in every society.

While  certain things should also be put in place to motivate many Zambians to adopt and adapt good reading culture, one feels that the first thing every citizen should know is the importance of good reading culture. Such knowledge might stimulate one to use the available resources to develop one’s reading culture.

Worrying in poor reading culture is the increase in modes of learning available nowadays which includes distance education and online studies. A good fraction of Zambia’s population is highly involved in such studies. With poor reading culture, how can one effectively learn through distance education or online studies?

One can argue that some people with worse reading culture have cleared such programmes with remarkable grades. Clearing a course with the help of plagiarism and examination malpractices,; therefore, with good grades is a great concern. But what is also an issue is how conversant the same person who cleared those courses is with issues relating to the same courses?

Consequently, develop a habit of good reading culture through perusing regularly. Read at least a topic even for 15 to 30 minutes every day. You will be surprised how your minds will develop ‘high appetite’ for reading every day. Frequent ‘appetite’ for reading, effective comprehension skills and articulation of what you read proves that you have a reached a good reading culture level.

Enhanced good reading culture among many citizens increases high levels of formal education’s knowledge.  Such knowledge is an effective tool which facilitates defeating personal, organisational, community’ and national challenges!

For instance, why is it that in Zambia, some people are yelling and grappling with many socio-economic challenges; thereby blaming successive governments for not addressing their personal and community problems?

The point is that every government, through various policies, programmes and regulations provides certain levels of enabling environment to each citizen’s, organisational, community’s and eventually to national socio-economic development processes.

This is why you discover that others are relatively comfortable while you and I are relatively suffering; and always complaining against successive governments for not addressing our problems.

Therefore, it’s how individuals and organizations in such an enabling environment pick up their own areas which can assist them to catapult themselves to certain levels of sustainable socio-economic development processes.

And one can argue that, among others, effective reading skills is a common key and catalyst to any strategy one chooses to scaffold him or her to greater socio-economic heights.

Look at our friends in developed countries.  Wherever they are, when they are a bit free, they are reading something. On bus or rail stations, in buses, trains, in vehicles and everywhere, they are reading on something.

Newspapers, magazines, textbooks, journals and novels are among common publications our friends in western countries read as part and effort of developing good reading culture. They know the importance of a good reading culture to one’s socio-cultural and national development processes.

But developing a good reading culture is a process. Our children should avoid developing good reading culture in their old age because it might be too late for them to achieve such.

From such a discussion, one can realise that personal, family, organisational, community and national sustainable socio-economic development processes, to a large extent, depend on many citizens in a country developing and having good reading culture.



The author is a lecturer in Journalism and Mass Communication. He is also a trainer in Public Relations (PR) and in Local Governance.

For ideas, comments and details, contact: Cell: 0977/0967 450151




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