Nigeria: Oluebubechukwu Nwokeoma - Promoting Reading Culture in Children

29 May 2020

In Nigeria, the International Children's Day is marked on May 27 as against other nations that celebrate the day on different dates. However, despite the disparity in dates, the objective is the same; a day set aside to celebrate children. It was on that premise that the United Nations adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child on November 20, 1959 and the Convention on the Rights of the Child on November 20, 1989. This year, Chiemelie Ezeobi puts 11-year-old Oluebubechukwu Nwokeoma, the library prefect of Dominican School in Lagos, on the spotlight. Her passion to inculcate the reading culture in children recently saw her drive a campaign to get book donations from groups and individuals to boost the school's library. Her campaign pulled in about 130 books to the school library, a move that propelled other individuals to follow suit with their own donations.

For most preadolescents or tweens, their needs are simple given that they are at that stage of human development following early childhood and preceding adolescence. Although same holds true for Miss Oluebubechukwu Nwokeoma, an 11 year-old pupil of Dominican Nursery and Primary School Library in Mafoluku, there is an extra fire burning in her to impact her world. Daughter of Punch Newspaper's Joel Nwokeoma and News Agency of Nigeria's (NAN) Chinyere Joel-Nwokeoma, her love for reading comes as no surprise.

One can adjudge that her youthful quest to promote reading culture among children stems from the fact that an environment where reading is valued, promoted and actively encouraged, breeds great scholars.

As the library prefect in her school, she recently took on a larger than life task of attracting a donation of 130 books from a group to the school library, a move that propelled other individuals to follow suit with their own donations.

It was in a bid to promote reading culture that Clever Clogs Books in partnership with PEA Foundation, fulfilled Nwokeoma's desire as her pet project was aimed at improving the collection of books in the school's library. On the day of presentation last year, the elated school authorities and pupils had mounted a guard of honour for inspection, showing how important that book drive was for the school at large.

Meanwhile, the originator of the pet project, Nwokeoma said she was spurred to take up the pet project of providing books for the library due to insufficiency of books to read, adding that the project would provide her friends and pupils in the school more books to read.

According to her, the next project is to refurbish the school library and provide more shelves and chairs as well as equip it to a 21st century library. To do this, she is banking on the support of family and friends.

While appreciating the donors, her school and parents for the success of the project, she appealed to the pupils to handle the books with care.

Seeing the success of the book donation drive, as at last year, books still poured in from the friends of her father even after the launch. According to Joel Nwokeoma, a good friend and development work colleague, Majiri Oghene Bob Etemiku called to say he was sending 19 copies of his exciting story book, Mamud and the Moringa Tree, all the way from Benin City as his own contribution to the #bookdrive for the library project.

He said: "Recall that over 130 books in different subjects were donated by Clever Clogs Books in partnership with PEA Foundation last week at an elaborate event at the Dominican Group of Schools premises.

"Friends have been supporting this ennobling project to enhance the reading culture by donating books. Let's make our children leaders by helping them to read well and wide. Give them books to read and eradicate ignorance."

About International Children's Day

The International Children's Day is the day dedicated to celebrate children and it's on this day that tributes are paid to children while affirmations about their well-being are brought to the front burner. Originating from Turkey on April 23, 1920, it would later be adopted in the World Conference for the Well-being of Children in Geneva, Switzerland in 1925.

According to Wikipedia, Children's Day was first celebrated worldwide in October 1955, under the sponsorship of International Union for Child Welfare in Geneva. This was after the idea of a Universal Children's Day was mooted by Rubab Mansoor grade 8 and was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1954.

First proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1954, it was established to encourage all countries to institute a day, firstly to promote mutual exchange and understanding among children and secondly to initiate action to benefit and promote the welfare of the world's children.

However, Nigeria annually marks the day on May 27.

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