Teaching Reading Comprehension in Selected Primary Schools in Oyo State, Nigeria
Moses A. Adeniji
The ability to read is one determiner of students' success or failure. They must form the habit of reading to perform well in all subjects. A good reader has a better opportunity for greater achievement. Ajibola, (2006) states that a reading habit is cultivated by individuals who are ready to give their all to it.
The skill acquired in reading can promote the acquisition of language skills like listening, speaking, and writing. Some primary school pupils find it difficult to read and understand despite the fact that reading is indispensable. Some show a carefree attitude towards reading. This problem is not peculiar to primary schools, but pertains to all categories of readers. Lasisi (2007) asked a fundamental question on what books Nigerians read. His question included whether political office holders in the country read. It was clear from the tone of the question that he feels that reading is not part of the culture of the people that control Nigerian destiny.
Some English teachers are lagging behind in their approach to teaching reading comprehension. The effect is poor performance among students. These teachers lack methods of imparting reading skills to pupils. The condition is so bad that some pupils find it difficult to read and understand a simple sentence. Amutheazi (2000) notes that there is an urgent need to investigate into the causes of poor reading comprehension among our pupils with a view to finding a lasting solution to the problem.
Reading is a lifelong activity.Those who enjoy reading derive pleasure and satisfaction from it. Adigun and Oyelude (2003) observe that skill in reading will not only assist pupils in organizing their thoughts and jotting down important facts while reading, but also equip them to comprehend entire texts.
Adewole (2001) asserts that the aim of any reading programme is to lay a strong foundation that can benefit pupils throughout their lives in academic pursuits. Phillips (1997) commenting on the numbers of literate pupils in primary schools in Nigeria, notes that about 57 percent of Nigeria's population over age six is literate, that is, can read and write with understanding in at least one language. The literacy rate is higher among the male population (about 66 percent). While the literacy rate ranges between 50 and 82 percent in the southern states, the rate in most of the northern states (excluding Kaduna and Katsina) ranges from 32 to 50 percent. Adigun and Oyelude (2003) conducted research on the use of the public library in selected locations in Ibadan, with the aim of exploring reading habits and general attitude towards reading and acquisition of skills in reading.
Reading is a crucial form of communication through which we get most of the information required in teaching and learning situations and in everyday life. Krashen (1993) says that we learn to read by reading, not through drill and practice, but by free volition, and in this way learners become readers.
Reading is the recognition of printed or written symbols, which serve as stimuli for the recall of meanings built up through the reader's past experience. It has also been described as a process of translating alphabetical symbols into a form of language from which the native speaker has already derived the meaning. According to Lawal (1996), readers use the symbols to guide the recovery of information from their repertoires and subsequently use this information to construct interpretations of the message. Adewole (2001) describes “critical reading skill,” which which students need to read, explore, and appreciate a literary text effectively. The ability to read is a crucial skill for information retrieval (Dike, 2006).
There are various factors militating against the effective teaching and learning of reading comprehension in our primary schools.
Oyetunde and Unoh (1986) list impediments to positive reading habits and attitude. These includes lack of materials, poor preparation of teachers, lack of interest, poor libraries or none at all, home background, and lack of adult readers as models.
Ojo (1993) found that the major causes of students' poor performance in English and other school subjects is their inability to read effectively, which, in turn, is largely is due to the attitude of learners toward reading. Lawal (1982) did diagnostic testing of reading achievement of selected secondary schools in Samaru, Zaria, and described such reading problems as: omission, substitution, reversal, mispronunciation, sight, vocabulary, not up to grade level, nervousness, slow reading, and lack of comprehension. Teachers must take responsibility for solving these problems, but Folaranmi (2007) believes that the government should involve teachers in working out effective ways of making the teaching profession viable for serving teachers and attractive to incoming ones, in order to address the problem of student poor reading culture. Adekoya and Arua (1997) believe that “many bilingual students fail to comprehend what they read in the school situation because they lack the vital firsthand experience necessary to widen their knowledge and general information of their culture which are not included in the school text.” Akinbade (2007) states that a good environment is necessary to promote effective learning in primary schools.
Oyerokun (1993) emphasizes the need to use appropriate techniques and materials in teaching. She further states that in order to achieve this, the school, teacher, and parents should work together to ensure improvement in reading performance. Bond and Tinker (1973) share the same view as Onibokun, maintaining that school, students, teachers, and parents should work to improve English language reading skill. Chihemen (2007) states that government has an interest in this matter, and put in place a training programme called “ The Special Teacher Upgrading Programme (STUP)” to address the deficiency among pupils.
Objectives of the Study
1. To investigate the problems facing pupils who are learning to read.
2. To determine the role of teachers in promoting reading skills.
3. To determine whether government and parents have a role in promoting reading culture in Nigeria.
4. To offer suggestions for improvement in teaching to promote reading comprehension.
Methodology and Population
A questionnaire was the main instrument in collecting data for the study. The questionnaire was structured and consisted of thirty questions. The respondents were to limit their responses to the options provided for teachers of English language in five primary schools Ibadan northeast local government of Oyo state. Two hundred copies of the questionnaire were distributed to a random sample in the selected schools.
The questionnaire was administered during the third term of 2005/2006 session. The administration was done by the researchers with the assistance of the school counselor of each school. Out of 120 copies of the questionnaire distributed 90 were filled and returned. This represents a return rate of 75 percent. The completed questionnaire were analyzed using frequency count and percentages.
Results and Discussion
Table 1: Gender
Sixty percent of respondents were female, and the rest male.
Table 2: Age Distribution
About one-third of the respondents are between the ages of 36 and 40 years, with another fifth between 31 and 35, and the remainder distributed among other age groups.
TABLE 3: Educational qualification
While 40 percent of respondents possess N.C.E, another 28 percent possess B.Sc. or B. Ed., while a smaller number have Grade II and M.Sc/MED certificate.
Research Question 1: Do teachers play a major role in learning reading comprehension in primary schools?
TABLE 4: Teachers' Roles in Promoting Reading Comprehension.
Unsurprisingly, nearly all respondents felt that teachers have a role in teaching reading comprehension. That is consistent with the finding of Omolewa (2001) and Havighurst (1981), as cited by Lassa (1995), that depicted teachers as managers of knowledge, mediators of learning, disciplinarians, socialites, supervisors, models or ego ideal, examiners, leaders, second parents, organizers, coaches and motivators of learning.
Research Question 2: Do governments play any role in promoting reading culture in Nigeria?
Table 5: Government Role in Promoting Reading Culture
Nearly four-fifths of respondents are of the opinion that government plays a role in promoting reading comprehension and reading culture. This finding is in line with those of Adesiyan (2007) that government as the provider of education also guides the operation of educational institutions in Nigeria.
Research Question 3: What Is the Role of Parents in the Reading Ability of their Children?
Table 6: Parent Attitudes toward the Learning and Teaching of English in schools
Nearly three quarters of respondents believe that parents' attitudes affect their children's learning of English as a school subject. Parent attitudes can help promote learning. This finding corroborates the work of Oden (1999) as cited by Oladunjoye (2003) mothers serve as resource persons in language learning for girls who are at home with their mothers.
Research Question 4: Do Conducive Environments Promote Reading Ability of Primary School Pupils?
TABLE 7: Enabling Environmental Factors that Promote Learning and Reading Comprehension
Eighty percent of respondents saw a conducive environment as a factor that promotes reading and learning among the pupils. This finding corroborates Akinbade (2007), who found that a conducive environment is the bedrock without which learning would be impaired and not effective.
Conclusion and Recommendations
Reading is indispensable to primary school pupils. With the appropriate reading materials, a conducive environment, and teachers with adequate educational qualifications, good reading skills will help produce pupils who perform well in other subjects. Government, teachers, and parents have major roles to play in the education of pupils in primary schools, especially on English as a school subject. Eighty-eight percent of respondent felt that teachers play a greater role. Government is the major provider of education through funding, rules, and regulations. The attitudes of parents help motivate children.
To promote reading skills and eliminate the threat of reading disabilities among Nigerian pupils, the following recommendations are made:
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