Handbook of International Development and Education
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Handbook of International Development and Education

Edited by Pauline Dixon, Steve Humble and Chris Counihan

This Handbook considers the myths and untruths that currently exist in international development and education. Using historic and contemporary evidence, this compendium redefines the international development narrative through a new understanding of 'what works', drawn from pragmatic ideas and approaches.
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Chapter 15: Teaching reading skills through synthetic phonics: an example from Nigeria

Olubusola I. Eshiet


The skills to lift words off a page, read sentences flawlessly, understand what they mean, engage with the text, challenge and improve on it are all vital for any child let alone one from Nigeria. The importance of reading is expressed by several Nigerian authors: ‘Reading is power! Read a book today! Reading maketh a man! Teach a child to read and you have made a king!’ (Igwe, 2011, p.1). However, according to some, ‘the rising population of reluctant readers in this age of information explosion is disturbing’. The reading state of the Nigerian society is ‘pathetic’ (Ilogho, 2011, p.1). Aina et al. (2011, p.1) believe that ‘reading stimulates imagination, encourages quick learning, and expands horizons. It encourages imagination and curiosity. Reading enhances acquisition of skills for handling complex ideas or issues’. Reading has been tipped as the underpinning factor for pleasure as well as work. Reading, in whatever form, pleasure or serious engagement, is a highly valued skill in Nigerian society. At the very basic level, the ability to read and write is equated to being literate. In Nigeria it is estimated that the level of literacy is around 56.9 per cent (UNESCO, 2012). Many senior primary school pupils cannot read fluently, and many Nigerians graduate from high school without attaining good reading skills (Aina et al., 2011).

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