PATHWAY TO INCLUSIVE COMMUNITY CHILDREN READING PROGRAM FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: SUMMER READING EXPERIENCE IN ANAMBRA STATE, NIGERIA.

Author:Osuchukwu, Ngozi P.
 
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Introduction

Literacy has never been more critical than it is today. The shift to global trend of sustainable development goals (SDGs) with Goal 4 of equitable quality education makes it imperative that learning and reading are important activities for survival in the information society. This is the reason reading programs are organized in the communities so that no one misses out in the learning programs. One of such program is summer reading program. It is children educational development scheme that aims at improving reading habits as well as enhancing academic performance. It is truly better to inculcate reading habits, right from tender age, so that children can imbibe it and grow in them as they grow up (Simisaye & QuadrI, 2010). Thus, summer reading programs are executed so that children can spend quality time with books, learn more and read freely with various resources.

Summer reading program is highly rated as improving reading skills. Simisaye & QuadrI (2010) informed that it helps to inculcate reading culture and love of books in children, creating awareness on the activities of library in the community, encouraging useful utilization of long vacation and building literacy collaboration between the libraries and community stakeholders. Indeed, it provides confidence, mental, emotional health and well-being of young people. Arguably, students experience learning and reading loss during holiday, especially, when they are not taking part in active literacy activities. But enrolling them in reading programs as Kim & Quinn (2013) emphasized facilitates excellent way of forestalling such reading loss.

Interestingly, summer reading programs have actually taken places in communities and local libraries. In New York Libraries (2011) the annual summer reading program has brought children and families into local public libraries for reading and activities. This was geared towards the needs of children in their communities where over 1.6 million of New York's children and teens participated in the state Library-sponsored program in 2011. In a study by Thebridge (2016) in Warwickshire public library, the supports and engagement increased confidence and well-being of students. The six to eight workshops in groups were testified by students:

This project completely opens my mind, and I did not know what to expect. It brought me back to life. It opened my eyes to a different type of poetry. Different to what I did at school. One afternoon, I spent all afternoon looking up poems that I liked in the library. However, the activities that support reading programs and the resources needed have not been developed to reach out to too many schools, communities and children across the nation (Scholastic Library, 2016). The focus on enriching the community children with literacy skills is critical in imbibing the reading culture and getting them ready for new academic session. Suffice it to say that reading is a very important activity that sharpens the mind and widens horizon. The importance of learning and inclusive participation of all children: girls and boys, wherever they may be are particularly beneficial for sustainable development, especially, where books and libraries might not be readily available. It calls for strategic extension of literacy activities to community children in support to social inclusion. Hence, the activity of rural community reading in Anambra state is to discourage marginalization and support the mantra of "leave no one behind".

Background of the community for the program

Nawgu community is in Dunukofia local government area in Anambra state, South East, Nigeria. It is a small rural community with a population that is predominantly agrarian. The dwellers are mostly women and children as the men are largely in the cities hustling for the welfare of the families. It has a Traditional Ruler and cabinet members, who are the custodians of cultural heritage of the community. There are also the President General, the Woman Leader and the Youth Leader who perform the administrative roles for the development of the community. Based on the previous funded educational activities in the community in collaboration with nongovernmental organizations, the librarians decided to carry out personal project during the long vacation to inculcate and encourage reading culture among the community children. Because of the size of the project, partnership with NGOs and the community stakeholders were sought through advocacy and community sensitization which was supported by the Traditional Ruler. It was a very successful activity as the impact created more opportunities and spaces for more learning in the coming vacations. The success story and the theory of change of engagement to underserved community provided the strategy for more innovative literacy programs in other communities.

Statement of the problem

Libraries are meant to be at the center of learning and reading, serving everyone and every community. The engagement of every group of people in meaningful learning is what Scholastic Library (2016) stated as promoting and facilitating the learning of core and evolving 21st century skills. The fact remains that with libraries, reading becomes a critical activity because it will cut across every strata, reaching out to rural communities with the stakeholders being parts of the planning and taking ownership of the program. However, observation showed that people in the city are more served with reading programs while rural dwellers are conveniently forgotten. This widens the gap and marginalizes the students from these poor backgrounds. In South East Nigeria, no summer reading experience has been recorded for social inclusion of students in the rural communities. This evidence based study aimed to unravel the good practices of inclusive reading program for children in rural community for sustainable development in Anambra state, Nigeria.

Objectives of the study

The main objective of this study is to review the inclusive reading program for rural children for sustainable development through summer reading experience. Specifically, the study:

  1. highlights the activities of summer reading program for rural children in Nawgu community

  2. examines the resources used in the summer reading program

  3. looks at the targets of the summer reading in the rural community understudy

  4. evaluates and assesses the rewards offered to participants in the summer program

  5. reviews the lessons learnt from the project

  6. identifies the challenges of the rural summer reading program in the rural community

    Literature review

    Basically, reading is an aspect of literacy that plays a crucial role in creating independent learners, literacy promotion and educational attainment of individuals in every society in the world. Just as Nigam (2015) and Didham & Ofei-Manu (2015) posited, education is central to achieving this goal. It goes to prove that...

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