Reading literature has a certain appeal. It transports you into the author’s universe. You get to experience the emotions and think about the thoughts. You can call it literal intercourse. That is how many of the great men we honour today were able to leave such illustrious legacies; a testament to a lifelong pursuit of knowledge.

However, just a small percentage of today’s youth recognize the value of knowledge. Most youngsters would rather spend an hour watching movies (season after season), playing games, or messing around on the internet than reading for an hour. The emergence of social media has severely decreased this millennium’s attention span; we can no longer afford to spend time reading to gain knowledge and perspective.

The daily struggle for economic survival provides little or no time for people to cultivate a good reading habit. Equally, the high cost of books, particularly imported ones, has contributed to low readership promotion in the country.

Nigeria is one of the countries in the world with the lowest reading culture, according to the World Culture Score Index. Available statistics from the National Commission for Mass Literacy, Adult and Non-Formal Education show that 38 percent of Nigerians are illiterate, with four out of ten primary school children unable to read for comprehension. Regrettably, this negative trend is an unsettling challenge to which the government appears to be paying little attention.

It is against this backdrop that 23-year-old Oluwatobi Raji decided to step up and proffer a solution. Oluwatobi is a Petroleum Engineering graduate University of Lagos, Petroleum Engineering. Currently working as a Software Product Manager I’m Lagos, Oluwatobi wants to leave the world a better place by creating solution-driven technologies and undertaking voluntary projects.

And one of such projects is The Book Club which he organised under the aegis of DO-Take Action. Oluwatobi believes that there is an abundance of untapped knowledge in books, which are not accessible to public schools because of the lack of well-equipped libraries.

He carried it the project at Igando Senior Comprehensive High School located in Igando Lagos state, and it entailed the following:

  1. A keynote presentation on the benefits of reading
  2. Am interactive Q/A session where students asked questions and were given informed answers
  3. A comment and testimonials session where students commented on the best books they’ve read
  4. Distribution of books, pens, pencils, erasers, sharpeners, tissues, and nose masks.

In the course of the project, 57 students participated in the Book Festival/Club. 50% of the participants participated in the poetry and prose stage presentations. 15 participants were empowered with a book each for personal library setup.  The school principal committed to increasing the collection of non-fiction books in the school’s library. 100% commitment from students to continue improving on their personal libraries. A minimum of 20 participants pledged to advocate for Improved Access to Quality Primary/Secondary Schools Education within their community..  2 GDCs were recruited from the participants to organize a Book Festival or Club outreach program in their community.

Oluwatobi has a passion for educating people and believes strongly that education is the only lasting thing one can give to another person. He is positive that if the intellect of the average Nigerian is improved, the country would improve, and thus has contributed his quota. 

What change are you engineering in your community?

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