“When a university graduate is unable to string two sentences together in English language who do you blame? The graduate, his teachers or the institution awarding the certificate?”

Someone sent me a video a few days back. It was a video of a state Governor interviewing a school Teacher, not for a job, but for her ability to read.

A school Teacher, unable to read; somehow that is a statement that does not make sense except if the Teacher in question has suddenly been struck with blindness. But there it was, in full colours, a Teacher who was unable to pronounce words like “declaration” “residing” and so on. People laughed because they found it funny. I did not laugh.For me it is a tragedy and it does not go down well with me at all. How can a Teacher not know how to read in the language of instruction?

This leads to the literacy question of our GENERATION NEXT series: whose fault is it when people who have gone to school do not know how to read, write and speak?

Who takes the blame for a Mechanical Engineer who knows next to nothing about machines or anything about the Engineering process for that matter? Whose fault is it when Doctors misdiagnose and patients die? Who should take the blame when a broadcaster ‘murders’ English language on air in an English-speaking country?

I frequently find myself carrying out Human Resource functions which sometimes include hiring and it never fails to amaze me that people with University degrees are functionally illiterate. They are unable to read and understand the English Language! Last time I checked we were still an English-speaking country so where lies the problem? I’m honestly puzzled but maybe I should not be.

When I was growing up the public library was a big deal. It was ‘cool’ to be seen with a novel and book sharing was a major part of our lives. Now cable TV has taken over and phones and mobile devices are the new ‘cool’.

What I find difficult to accept is how a generation like mine that grew up on a steady diet of James Hardley Chase, Mills and Boon Romance, Jeffrey Archer, Sidney Sheldon, Leon Uris, James Clavell, Chinua Achebe, Chukwuemeka Ike and so many other great authors could allow its offspring to feed on junk like cartoons and Home Videos! How did we let that happen? And why? And most importantly, what are going to do about it?3

Where is generation next?



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