By Vivian Onyebukwa 

The International Association of Lions Clubs, District 404B1, Nigeria, has donated tables and chairs to the library of Ilogbo Elegba Senior Grammar School, Ojo, Lagos, as part of the Reading Action Programme Committee’s activities for the 2022/2023 Lions year. 

In her address, chairperson, Reading Action Programme Committee 2022/2023, Ibiba Odili, explained that the programme was a core initiative of the Lions Club International, with the aim of increasing reading and literacy rates and to address specific needs related to literacy. 

She noted that it was a call to action for Lion Clubs around the world to organise service projects and activities to underscore the importance of reading and addressing specific needs related to illiteracy within communities.

She outlined the need for a society to imbibe a reading culture, saying: “Multiple studies have shown that there is a symbiotic relationship between reading, learning and intelligence. Reading skills strengthens the brain and improves mental wellbeing. It also improves mental concentration and the ability to focus, which also aids academic performance in young people.”

Odili went further to explain that reading activity increases general knowledge and expands vocabulary, which improves writing skills, self-esteem and confidence.

According to her, building a strong reading culture, especially among young people, promotes timely emotional intelligence and self-awareness, which are critical to providing protective factors against risky behaviours such as drug abuse, gambling, violence, cultism and prostitution, among others.

“Reading fluency is also a strong indicator for achievement in further education, higher education and future employment,” she added.

She stated the need to pay more attention in increasing the reading culture in Nigeria, saying Nigeria has been rated the World Culture Score Index as one of the countries in the world with the lowest reading culture. 

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She also said statistics from the National Commission for Mass Literacy, Adult and Non-Formal Education showed that 38 per cent of Nigerians were non-literate, as four in 10 primary school children cannot read for comprehension: “You will all agree that in the contemporary world that we are currently living, this is an issue for serious concern.”

She then noted that the establishment of liibraries and improving existing libraries were strategies that could improve not just the reading culture but also a learning-seeking behaviour, especially in young people who are the future and hope of the country.

Odili donated some of her published books, and branded notebooks of Lions International brought by the District Governor Kemi Ashibuogwu to the school library as part of the programme.

“Efficient library systems ensure that every child is included in a viable learning platform, irrespective of economic status, race, religion and colour”, Odili added.

Her books on parenting, she said, would not only be useful to students but also teachers and parents.

In attendance at the event were the district governor, Kema Ashibuogwu, presidents of Lagos Akowonjo, Ojo Golden and Badagry Lions Clubs, and Principal of Ilogbo Elegba Senior Grammar School, Dr. Titilayo Moyofolu. Also in attendance were representative of the tutor-general, permanent secretary Mr. Ige Edu, District 5, representative for quality assurance, Mr. Bakare, Prince Omoloye, Baale of Ilogbo-Elegba, Chief Amusan Alani, and Suraju Tijani, member, House of Assembly, Ojo Consistency.

In response, Moyofolu expressed gratitude to Lions International for making the presentation to the school. 

She equally thanked the government officials who found time to attend the event.