No society fares better than the quality of human capacity assembled in such a society. One of the time- tested ways of developing the human capacity is through reading; because it is in books that life-changing information are submerged awaiting the curious and motivated reader to identify and use for personal and community development. The deterministic nature of technology is dictating a new pattern especially among young people. Rather than the age-long practice of reading, priority now exists for the use of mobile technology and other devices that generate varied contents for entertainment at the expense of education. An inflection point is noticed and this is the problem that Bowen University is addressing in the Mediated Reading Plan (MRP). The Bowen University reading model leverages on technology to engender productive reading and post-reading discussions.
The MRP leverages on available technology-driven platforms at the disposal of students as a means for small-group reading engagements, it also affords participants the privilege of self-learning using minimal resources at the disposal of the learner and benefitting from direct access to unlimited information on the internet.
In March 2019, a pilot reading scheme was launched with 23 students who volunteered to read the Forbes – published ‘AFRICA RISE AND SHINE.’ The book, which comprises of thirty chapters, meets the core values of the University (Godliness, Excellence, Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Social Responsibility). The book was selected, read and subjected to thorough review for the purpose of shaping and reshaping the opinions of participants.
The University Management led by Prof. Joshua Olalekan Ogunwole believes that knowledge is fundamental in moving successfully from one phase of life to another – and the only way this can be made possible is when a significant portion of the students read and do so frequently and productively. In the words of the Vice-Chancellor; “Management has also invested heavily in the entrepreneurship education of the students under two broad areas termed Skill-based and Knowledge- based entrepreneurship. The MRP fits into the knowledge based entrepreneurship mode where the individual becomes enterprising through accumulation of useful knowledge.
A comprehensive review was adopted and the book was read and reviewed for 15 days. The reading was done when the school went on election break. The platform used had teaching members of staff for whom the students hold in high esteem and submit themselves for mentoring and participants were assigned roles on the platform as moderators, prompters, divers, super-divers and chief divers.
In the end, the students who participated in the first reading were celebrated at the University Chapel, a venue that holds about 5,000 students at a sitting. Currently, about a hundred students are on que for the next batch of review while a team of about 40 are currently holding daily discussion on the different platforms. The MRP has succeeded in using the same platforms that distract the students as an avenue to build and further shape their lives.
The following are testimonies of some of the student participants:
“I have participated in a host of group readings before and I have not had the kind of experience I had in Bowen with the Mediated Reading Plan. With an application as simple as WhatsApp, I was able to exchange views and critically read the Jim Ovia’s Africa Rise and Shine. The MRP is a great initiative and I am sure several students will get really fascinated doing this in the future.”
– Tobi Onigbogi
“It was fascinating for me to read and to review in a completely different way. I had the privilege of participating as a Moderator. The job of a moderator centres on coordination; I was thrilled by the depth of ideas that emanated from my colleagues – the same set of people I play with regularly. I was additionally thrilled by their enthusiasm and energy on a daily basis. It was a beautiful experience; I relish it and I plead that the University sustains the reading plan.”
– Lawi Wulanga
Bowen University appreciates Mr. Jim Ovia for the donation of 100 copies of Africa Rise and Shine to the University. He is appreciated for making the maiden mediated reading plan possible through hard copies circulated to participants.