For a long time, the derision has been that “if you want to hide something from Africans, hide it inside a book!”
However, this can change especially if stakeholders in the education sector could encourage children to read.
For three years, a university don has been in the frontline to instill a reading culture in young, school-going children so that they may perceive books as a source of happiness.
The initiative dubbed Read Baby Read was launched on April 9, 2018 at Inani Primary School in Nyamache Sub-county, Kisii County, by Prof. Joshua Gisemba Bagaka’s as one way of giving back to the community.
Prof Bagaka’s is the Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic & Student Affairs, Research and Innovation at KCA University.
“There is evidence that reading for pleasure, particularly if it begins at an early age, will enhance success in students during their later years,” observes Prof Bagaka’s.
According to the academician, reading does not only enhance vocabulary development and comprehension, but also transfers the benefits to other subjects.
“The more one reads as a child, the more knowledgeable they become. Knowledge is important in all aspects of life. The culture of voluntary reading gives a child a head-start and helps them prepare for success in education,” adds Prof. Bagaka’s.
The main goal of the initiative is to place more books in the hands of children for them to read both in school and at home.
Speaking during the reactivation of the Read Baby Read program recently, Inani Primary School Headteacher Emmanuel Otieno Mitah hailed the initiative for the wave of impact it has had in the children three years since inception.
“The pupils’ communication skills have improved as evidenced in a number of them being able to confidently speak to their colleagues and adults.”
Mr. Otieno added that “Our children nowadays read books not to pass exams but for enjoyment and a majority have become informed about issues around the world.”
He said that beyond the learners having an improved performance in other subjects, there is a good teacher-pupil relationship and good time management among the young minds.
Prof. Bagaka’s has committed over Ksh. 1 million into the reading initiative and employed support teachers under the Board of Management (BoM) terms at the school.
The program has received a further boost from the KCA University community, Cleveland University, Inani Alumni and the Board of Management.
Prof. Bagaka’s is a professor of Educational Research Design and Statistics, with interests in teacher, classroom and school effectiveness on student learning outcomes.
He is a Master of Science in Probabilities and Statistics and a Ph.D. fellow in Educational Statistics, Measurement and Research design from Michigan State University.
He was on the African Regional Research Fulbright Program to Kenya from August 2010 to April 2011.