There is no doubt that the level of development in a country is directly proportional to the literacy level. Rather than improving on the literacy rating, various findings indicted that Nigeria keeps on retrogressing (Olanrewaju, 2008). Reading is essential to full participation in modern society. It adds quality to life, provides access to cultural heritage, empowers and emancipates citizens as well as brings people together.
Holt (1998), remarks that a situation in which a large number of people rarely read, either because they lack the skill or simply because they do not care enough to take time to concentrate will pose on of the fundamental building blocks of learning. Becoming a skilled and adaptable reader enhances the chances of success at school and beyond. Sisulu added that reading is not just for school, it is for life.
Reading in all its variety is vital to being better informed, have a better understanding of self as well as others. It makes a person to be thoughtful and constructive contributor to a democratic and cohesive society (Sisulu, 2004). The absence of a widespread culture of reading in the case of Nigeria pupils act as an effective barrier to their academic performances. The economic, social and political health of our nation today depends on building literate citizens that are able to read widely and apply it practically for development (Olanrewaju, 2008).
Most of the problems we have in this country today are traceable to the high rate/level of illiteracy. If a person can read and write, he will most certainly be able to avoid certain things that can harm him. He will be able to get information from different sources on what to do to be healthy. He will know how to take care of himself to stay healthy (Nssien, 2008).
Osundare (2009), notes that a country’s level of development is a function of its level of mental and cultural evaluation as well as the state of its educational advancement, which is embedded on building a high level of literacy in all facets of the population. He states further that Nigeria needs to improve its literacy level because literacy is the fore runner of a country’s development.
The fact remains that unless a solution is found to the dwindling or poor reading culture of pupils in Nigeria, the country will continue to battle with underdevelopment. It is therefore a necessity to make the present generation more aware of the benefits and importance of reading and ensuring that they have the literacy skills required in the modern society. Inspite of the importance of reading among school pupils, to his end, the researcher sought to know the causes of this poor reading culture and how it affect pupils’ academic performance in English language.
1.2 Background of the Study
A child’s English language reading skills dictate performance in other subjects. A child’s ability to read and write has great advantage on the child. One of the advantages is that this ability will determine the child’s performance in other academic and educational areas. There is no doubt that a good reader will automatically become a good writer. There is no magic and nothing mysterious about this.
Rubic and Provost (1998) makes a summary of this idea by saying that for people to achieve any level of publishable excellence as writers, they must learn to sharpen their instincts for what works dramatically. The way to do this was to “practice writing and reading” (p.4). When a child is able to read, the child eventually becomes literate. He or she is able to communicate, dictate symbols, decide when to eat and when not to eat.
Omojuwa (2005) observes that functional literacy does not only stop at learning, but ensures reading for survival even when a child’s endeavor terminates at the primary school level. The goal of the early missionaries in providing a six-year educational course for children of age 6 to 12 years was for the acquisition of this basic reading and writing skills. When teachers, parents and guardians spend time to teach children, it is the same goal that all these educators advocate either directly or indirectly (Ekpu, 1997). He further states that at these years in the child’s development, the expectations is for the child to be able to recognize objects, symbols, and numerical figures at home, at school, or even at the playground. In a similar way, when a pupil grows to the reaches the age of graduating from the primary school, he is expected to be good at reading simple sentences using English language. What this means is that if a child begins primary one at the age of six years, by the time the reaches primary six, he or she is already eleven years. There is no excuse for a child at this age not to be able to read simple sentences in English language.
Eyo (2007), while lamenting the generally poor state of provision of library facilities and resources in most primary and secondary schools in Nigeria stressed that inadequate provision of libraries in schools is a general disease that is plaguing education in Nigeria. Ingham (1998) supports that socio-economic status of a family correlates highly with the degree of a child’s reading success. Ingham notes that while noise making in the classrooms and checking of homework are within the teacher’s control. Ingham concludes that this is where parents enables the child’s reading condition when they are in full support of those factors that are outside the teacher’s control.
The fact, remains that determining those factors either within or outside teacher’s control that cause poor academic performances of pupils in English language remains an unresolved problem in our primary schools in general and the pupils. This study is therefore poise to investigate the causes of poor reading culture of primary school pupils and their academic performance in English language in Uyo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.
1.3 Statement of the Problem
The current reading and writing state by an average Nigerian pupils at the primary school level is very poor. This is the general notion among researchers such as Rumelhart, (2004). According to Pinnell (2000), most children who fail to read do so not because they are incapable to learn to read but largely because of their carefree attitudes towards reading.
Again, Eyo (2007), while lamenting the generally poor state of provision of library facilities and resources in most primary schools in Nigeria in general and in Uyo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State in particular stressed that inadequate provision of libraries in primary schools is a general disease that is plaguing education and resulted in pupils poor academic performance in school subjects in general and English language in particular.
Poor reading among primary five pupils is caused by a number of factors and this resulted in pupils’ poor academic performances in English language. It was worrisome as it was observed by the researcher that pupils’ academic performances in English language was relatively poor and this can hinder their academic progress in life. This prompted the undertaking of this study in an attempt to proffer solution to this great problem.
1.4 Purpose of the Study
The study was undertaken to determine the causes of poor reading culture of primary school pupils and academic performance in English language in Uyo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. Specifically, the study sought to determine:
1. The relationship between pupils’ attitude towards reading and their academic performance in English language in Uyo Local Government Area.
2. The relationship between poor libraries or none at all and pupils’ academic performance in English language in Uyo Local Government Area.
3. The relationship between socio-economic status of parents and pupils’ academic performance in English language in Uyo Local Government Area.
1.5 Research Questions
The following research questions were poised to guide the study:
1. What is the relationship between pupils’ attitude towards reading and their academic performance in English language in Uyo Local Government Area?
2. What is the relationship between poor libraries or none at all and pupils’ academic performance in English language in Uyo Local Government Area?
3. What is the relationship between socio-economic status of parents and pupils’ academic performance in English language in Uyo Local Government Area?
1.6 Research Hypotheses
The following hypotheses were formulated and tested at 0.05 level of significance.
1. There is no significant relationship between pupils’ attitude towards reading and their academic performance in English language in Uyo Local Government Area.
2. There is no significant relationship between poor libraries or none at all and pupils’ academic performance in English language in Uyo Local Government Area.
3. There is no significant relationship between socio-economic status of parents and pupils’ academic performance in English language in Uyo Local Government Area.
1.7 Assumption of the Study
The following assumptions were made in the study. It is assumed that:
i. Pupils’ poor reading culture is caused by a number of factors.
ii. Pupils’ attitude towards reading affects their academic performance in English language.
iii. Poor libraries or none at all influence pupils’ academic performance in English language.
iv. Socio-economic status of the family correlates highly with the degree of a child’s reading success.
v. The independent and dependent variables can be measured systematically.
1.8 Significance of the Study
The findings of this study are expected to be of help to primary school teachers in their decision to adopt a particular teaching method aimed at making pupils learn how to read in English language.
Also, it is believed that the findings of this study will guide parents in their collaborative effort to teach their children how to read English language. More so, this study will provide current empirical data as regards the causes of poor reading culture of primary five pupils in English language.
Finally, this study will be of immense benefits to resource persons in their course of training and retraining primary school teachers. Again, this study will equally benefit would-be researchers by serving as a reference material for those who might want to conduct research on similar related subject matter.
1.9 Delimitation of the Study
This study is delimited to the determination of the relationship between causes of poor reading culture of primary school pupils and academic performance in English language in Uyo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.
The study is also delimited to pupils’ carefree attitude towards reading, poor libraries or none at all and socio-economic status of parents as they relate to pupils’ academic performance in English language.
1.10 Definition of Terms
For the purpose of clarity and better understanding of the concepts used in this study, the following terms were defined according to the context in which they are used.
Reading: In its simple and general sense, reading denotes the decoding of information or message encoded in a conventional graphic symbol understood by both encoder (the author) and the decoder (reader).
Culture: That complex whole or civilization which includes knowledge, beliefs, arts, morals, law, customs and other capabilities acquired by man as a member of the society. Or the culture of a society is the way of life of its members, the collection of ideas, and habits which they learn, share and transmit from generation to generation.
Academic performance: This has to do with the level of achievement of primary school pupils in English language test and examinations.