By Ronald Karuhanga
KIU, Main Campus - Mid-December this year, the KIU campus composed of an overwhelming number of students. This was immediately after the release of the Examinations Timetable. The School Library was full to the brim and one could hardly find a serene unoccupied space to read from around campus!
The lead question now is; why do students opt for this kind of rush-hour reading? Some go to the extremes of suspending sleep when the exams timetable is released and ironically, soon after the exams season is done, a lot of pamphlets are abandoned on the examination room verandas and soon enough, books and reading go into pause-mode until another season of exams approaches.
The atmosphere described is all pure evidence of a very poor reading culture prevailing around our campus. As an anonymous white man is quoted to have provocatively said that, "If you want to hide something from an African, put it in a book."
Despite KIU boasting of the biggest state-of-the-art IBML Library in East Africa that is fully stocked with various pieces of literature along with the supplementary e-resources, it is once in a blue moon that you see a student daring to indulge in perusing through a literature that is outside the academic scope.
Recent research by the Harvard University Leadership School assessed students according to how they performed. The research indicated that the students who scored high grades were those who were avid readers and exposed themselves to voluminous literature pieces, and to the contrary, those who confined themselves to the syllabus were likely to be average performers. The research established that this kind of exposure not only developed their reading culture, but also enhanced their intellect. This, in the end, always advantaged them over their colleagues who didn’t embrace the same reading culture which is key in equipping them with a good comprehension capacity that would eventually make them great performers.
Some good news though is that in Uganda, there have been recent developments to take on the status quo to develop a robust national reading culture. Through campaigns such as D.E.A.R - which is an acronym for 'Drop Everything And Read' - which have advanced concepts such as; 'You become what you read. A child who reads will become an adult whothinks. When you stop learning you stop living,' the masses are slowly being lured to build the nation's reading culture.
As students are now headed for their festive holidays, I urge students to expose themselves to new ideas that are beyond their academic scope through reading. As it is popularly said, the brain is like a muscle - the more you use it, the stronger it becomes. Take on the challenge, it will payoff in the long run.
Books and reading have the power to take you on an adventure throughout the world. It is through that, that one will be insighted about what happens in other cities, other histories, and other lifetimes. While in the comfort of your seat, reading books will pour the knowledge of great philosophers and through the reading, one is able to attain the perspective of a great think just like them.
The mentality about reading should be changed from being seen as an inconvenience or punishment, to being a very enriching and rewarding experience.
The writer, Ronald Karuhanga LLB4, is a Youth Leader, and the 17th Guild Prime Minister of the KIU Guild Union