With reading culture in Nigeria believed to be in decline, the official launch of Teen Trust, a sister publication of Daily Trust, in Kano on Tuesday may be a step towards turning the tide, Daily Trust reports.
The crowd of students and teachers at the Coronation Hall of the Kano state government house over an hour before the commencement of the event highlighted the importance attached to the event.
It was a day set aside for the distribution of resources for the free education policy in the state as well as the unveiling of 10,000 copies of Teen Trust, a Media Trust Ltd publication, to help improve schoolchildren’s reading culture in the state.
The paper, first published in 2016 according to the publisher, is to encourage literacy among students and teenagers; to make the students become efficient writers as well as develop a proper reading habit.
“We have entered into an agreement with Daily Trust for the production of this newspaper, Teen Trust, to inform, educate and entertain our school children; so that they can develop their reading culture,” the state governor, Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje declared to the crowd.
“This is a new initiative, an innovation by Daily Trust in order to educate our children especially in the Northern part of this country. We will continue this programme with Daily Trust because it is very useful,” he said.
Earlier, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Media Trust Ltd, Alhaji Kabiru Yusuf had introduced Teen Trust as the youngest publication of the Media Trust Ltd, the publishers of Daily Trust and other titles.
The paper, he said, is “meant for the young. We started it in May 2016 and the idea is to introduce reading culture early in the lives of young people.
“Unfortunately, as we all know, Nigeria has a very poor reading culture or habit and it will take a lot of efforts; perhaps, even a generational change for us to turn it around. So, we thought we should start now by having this small paper which is full of educational materials, current affairs, fun and games so that the young people can engage with it.”
He added that education is not only about going to school but also about knowing about the world, which is aided through an efficient reading culture.
Accompanied by one of the Directors of the Media Trust Board, Alhaji Aminu Dangana and Abdullahi Mainasara, the company’s General Manager, Northern Operations, Malam Yusuf said since Teen Trust started, its circulation has continued to grow and currently, as a weekly publication that comes out every Tuesday, the company prints 50,000 copies.
He explained that the company had to go into a relationship with state governments and organisations to subscribe to the paper.
“Right now we do it with Plateau, Yobe, Borno, Katsina states and we do it with UNICEF and UBEC. These are institutions that are interested in young people,” he said, adding that it came as a delight that the Kano State government has bought into the idea and integrated the unveiling of the paper in the state into its very important programme on free and compulsory education.
The free and compulsory education policy of Kano State, which started in 2019, is the government’s approach to return over two million out-of-school children to class.
The state governor on Tuesday stressed that with the free and compulsory education policy of the state, “education for our children is necessary. It is not optional. The right of a child to education is not optional. Therefore, it is not an option for parents to refuse to send their children to school. That is not acceptable for the government of Kano State.”
It is this posture of the government that geared the state’s House of Assembly to pass into law the bill for the implementation of the state’s Free and Compulsory Universal Basic and Secondary Education Bill, 2020.
The new law, among others, makes it an offence for parents to refuse to send their children or wards to school and any parent found culpable would be fined N20,000 as a penalty or risk one-month imprisonment, a similar punishment for any principal or teacher found collecting any amount either from parents or students.
Going beyond the declaration of the policy, the state government said it is poised to see to it that resources needed for the actualisation of the goals of the policy are delivered to the students. One of them, according to the governor, is the Teen Trust newspaper. Others are motorcycles for education supervisors, tablet computers for education officers, textbooks of English and Mathematics for JSS1-3 and SS1-3 and cheques of over a N100 million for the maintenance of schools in the state daily.
The thrilled teachers at the event said they are optimistic that their students will find the paper very useful in improving their overall literacy.
They believe that since the students are not just the audience but also the major authors of the content of the paper, Teen Trust will come as an opportunity for them to broaden not just their reading culture but also their writing skills.