'Zimbabweans least motivated readers'

HARARE - Despite the unparalleled levels of competence in reading and writing, Zimbabweans are among the least motivated readers, a Great Zimbabwe University (GZU) lecturer said.

Godwin Makaudze of the Department of African Languages and Literature made these remarks at the just-ended Zimbabwe International Book Fair (ZIBF).

“Zimbabwe currently boasts of one of the highest literacy levels in Africa. Paradoxically, such an encouraging state of affairs is not paralleled with a high reading culture. Instead, the high levels of literacy are undone by the very low reading culture.

“In Africa, Zimbabwe counts among the few nations with a very high literacy level. Statistics of literacy levels in Zimbabwe are placed at various percentages. The majority of the population, both old and young, are able to read and write in at least one or more of the major and official languages in the country, which include English, Shona and Ndebele,” he said.

He said people have a tendency to read for exams only, not for recreational purposes, hence their lack of interest when they are not writing exams.

“The education system in Zimbabwe is strongly inclined towards passing an examination, nothing more or nothing less. A person with at least five Ordinary Level passes is deemed to have passed at Ordinary level, while one with at least two Advanced Level passes is considered to have passed the level.

“Those who pass have higher chances of progressing into higher levels of learning and boosting their chances of obtaining a professional qualification. More so, the ministry of Primary and Secondary Education descends heavily on schools whose overall pass rate is deemed unsatisfactory.

“Today, the same ministry now also emphasises the ranking of schools in order of their Ordinary and Advanced Level pass rates. Parents also take the ranking as an opportunity to see which schools are good enough for them to send their children to, so that they are at least guaranteed of them passing. Parents do not want to spend their hard-earned cash sending their children to schools whose performances are unsatisfactory,” he said.

He gave other reasons for less motivation as the high costs of reading material, the high cost of living, high costs of publishing and/or re-printing books and other reasons.

This decline in the reading culture has been attributed to several factors including technology.

During the same session, Doctor Boniface Manyame, a retired medical doctor and farmer with an active interest in libraries said technology was killing people’s interest in reading.

“Technology has brought about overall changes in family, social, and economic conditions. Poor reading habits occur in children and young people because reading is not considered a relevant leisure activity as it does not form part of children’s social interaction and reading is considered a solitary pursuit and is not attractive compared with interactive activity on the Internet.”


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