If Nigeria must have good value system, good governance and educational development, the National Assembly must urgently approve the National Book Policy (NBP), which has been on its table for several years.
Stakeholders who gathered at this year’s conference and general meeting of the Nigeria Publishers Association (NPA), held at Sheraton Hotel, Lagos, with the theme “Functional National Book Policy: A catalyst for educational development,” said the policy, if approved will be beneficial to authors, institutions, publishers, parents and children as well as engender improved book industry, distribution and use.
Besides, it will solve the myriads of problems confronting the nation’s educational system and the book industry.Executive Secretary of Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC), Prof. Ismail Junaidu, who spoke at the conference, said the council, which has the mandate to implement the NBP had since sent a draft copy of the policy to the National Assembly, wondering why it is yet to get feedback from them.
Junaidu, represented by the Director, Book Development Centre of the council, Dr. Imaobong Nsehe, said, “The policy has been drafted and approved by the National Council on Education, but is now awaiting assent by the National Assembly. It has been with them for some years now and we keep sending reminders. So far we have not gotten any feedback. And so we are appealing to them to assent to it so that it will become a public document that can be used by all stakeholders.”
The keynote speaker and former Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission NUC, Prof. Peter Okebukola, urged publishers to be innovative in their affairs so that learners can make judicious use of the knowledge embedded in books.
“We have books everywhere but the people to read the books don’t have the appetite to do so, reading culture in Nigeria is depressing. If that is not arrested, we will just keep flooding the system with books and the knowledge encoded in them are not able to get transmitted. We have to see how we can encourage development of reading culture by teachers, students and parents at all levels of education.
“And this should be done by enhancing the literacy level of the citizens. So our agencies at state and federal level that are concerned with promoting literacy generally should strive to see how reading culture can be promoted. Like reading and summarising a book once a week will suffice, we did that during our secondary school days and that stimulated our appetite to read, and helped tremendously in expanding our horizon of knowledge of several things.”
He also challenged stakeholders to embrace book digitisation as another means of promoting reading culture, adding that many children and adults use the technological gadgets, “and if we are able to put contents that would entice them in their devices it will help to stimulate their reading culture.
President, NPA, Mr. Gbadega Adedapo, while stating that functional book policy should be implemented to the latter, said “research has shown that majority of books were pirated copies and this has degenerated into mistrust among stakeholders as well as availability of raw materials and equipment to process it, among others. We are optimistic that functional book policies if implemented would solve some of these problems.”