Malawi: Inadequate Supplementary Reading Efforts Affecting Reading Culture

Lilongwe — Primary Education Advisor (PEA) for Lilongwe Urban Christon Pondakwao has expressed concern over inadequate efforts by teachers to encourage learners to read supplementary books a situation he said is contributing to dwindling reading culture among learners in the country.

Pondakwao said this on Saturday in Lilongwe during the Reading Promotion Campaign 2019 which was part of commemoration of International Literacy Day celebrated world over on September 8.

He said most teachers have concentrated only on the curriculum books unlike supplementary books a situation he described as unhealthy to the promotion of reading campaign in Malawi.

However, he noted that government through the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology has supplied supplementary reading books to make sure that learners are encouraged to read other books apart from those that are in the curriculum using allocated time within the school learning hours.

"It is my plea that teachers should encourage learners to read. There is also that period that has been put by government known as Library Time and teachers should make use of that period so that the learners read," he said.

He said analysing the source of the challenge shows that teachers have failed to instil the reading culture in learners a situation he described as a set back to the promotion of the reading campaign currently underway.

He, therefore, appealed to fellow teachers to emphasise on reading culture so that learners are not blamed as being not so intelligent for failing to read properly.

Pondakwao expressed concern that there are some learners who would just copy everything and give it to a teacher when they are given an examination paper and wondered what this shows on the part of the learner.

"It shows that the learner doesn't know how to read. It is high time that we teachers should fully utilise the National Reading Program as it is assisting us with skills that will make us able to know our learners," he said.

As such the PEA encouraged fellow teachers that when they go back to their respective schools they should ensure that they develop libraries for the learners saying it will be of benefit to learners because they will not have to walk long distances to access a library.

Deputy National Librarian for National Library Service (NLS), Vote Somba said as one way of ensuring that reading promotion campaign is promoted the library service is striving to reach out to as many learners as possible with their services but are not able to do so because of financial constraints.

So far NLS is working with over 500 primary schools and 200 secondary schools and tertiary education institutions across the country.

He said reading culture is important because it spearheads development.

"You will agree with me that without reading there is no development. If government wants to have meaningful development the people have to be literate because they will easily get messages and relay them better than illiterate citizens," said Somba.

A form four student at Mlodza Secondary School, Confidence Ndosi, said reading is important among learners as it helps them with ideas on how to achieve things.

She said a greatest gift to a child is a book because they get knowledge from them and it is important for the youths to be reading saying books are more important than internet.

"This is important for those who are in primary school as well because it is encouraging them on how to read and spell different words," she said.

The event attracted learners and students from some primary and secondary schools from the Lilongwe urban.

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