The National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), in carrying out its mandate of providing innovative training, research and documentation of Nigeria’s cultural heritages and assets to make culture the vector for national development, is equipping cultural workers with effective writing skills towards translating the rich body of knowledge on the sector being held in oral traditions across the country to help document these cultural heritages and assets for posterity.
The Head, Department of Theatre and Cultural Studies, Nasarawa State University, Keffi, Professor Emmanuel Samu Danduara, a resource person at the NICO 3-Day Workshop on “Repositioning Cultural Workers for Improved Productivity,” for staffers of the Federal Ministry of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation, stated this while presenting a paper, titled, “Report Writing Skills for Cultural Officers and Administrators in the Arts and Culture Sector.”
Danduara noted that, there is a huge gap between the quantum of documentation currently being generated on the Nigerian culture industry and the rich body of knowledge on the sector being held in oral traditions; therefore, the high turnover of activities, products, artists and professionals in the culture sector demands that, cultural workers adopt a more aggressive approach towards researching and documenting the unique values of our diverse culture and preserving same as their own quota and contributions to national development.
He opined that, the idea of leaving the research and documentation of the assets and heritages inherent in Nigeria’s cultural sector mostly to scholars in tertiary institutions, hardly achieve the most important purpose of getting back to the people in the various communities to enrich the practice in the sector, as most of the research outputs by these scholars are often times stacked away somewhere on shelves in their institutions, thereby limiting the spread of such researches to achieve the idea of improving the culture sector.
According to him, even the performance of most staffers in the Research and Documentation Departments of most Ministries of Culture, Parastatals, and the Arts and Culture Bureaus, whose professional mandate include documenting these tangible and intangible cultural assets of Nigeria, leaves much to be desired, because of poor or inadequate training in primary research and documentation techniques, which is, Report Writing.
The NICO workshop resource person said, it was based on this that, it had become pertinent to attempt to equip cultural officers with the basic techniques of Effective Report Writing, which would enhance their skills in writing research reports, official reports, as well as help in the documentation of cultural products, activities, heritages and assets.
Defining ‘report’ as, “a statement of the results of an investigation of any matter on which definite information is required,” he said, a report is a clearly structured document in which the writer identifies and examines issues, events or findings of an investigation.
He said a report is also information obtained from research or from undertaking a project to be delivered in a precise, concise writing style, organized under a set of headings and sub-headings, which enable the reader to find data quickly.
Professor Danduara, however, stated that, a good report is not just a series of random numbers and letters, but one that requires a lot of planning, urging that participants should not rush into report writing after an assignment or research; carefully consider what they need to write; be convinced on the purpose of the report; consider who the report is going to; what message it is intended to communicate; what the level of understanding of their intended audience or reader is; and also consider what best format or approach to adopt.
He therefore noted that taking these steps into consideration, participants would most likely end up with a more effective report because effective reports are those that are organized for the convenience of the intended reader.
The university don listed the characteristics of good report writing to include the following: factual, accurate, concise or precise, verifiable, objective, organised and readable, reiterating that, in planning a report, participants must evolve answers to what the report is all about, who the report is meant for, where the investigation for the report will be done, how data for the report will be generated, when the investigation will be done and submitted, as well as the scope of the report.
Professor Danduara informed that, if participants adhere to lessons they learn from the workshop, the issue of poor documentation of the assets, heritages and activities in the Nigerian culture industry would be checked and improved upon, and therefore advocated for frequent training of cultural workers on the techniques of effective research and report writing, noting that doing this would improve the efficiency and proficiency of the cultural workers for national development.
Jonathan N. Nicodemus