By Maryam Garba Hassan
The Federal Government said it is committed to achieving Education for All (EFA) by 2015 and revitalization of the Adult and Youth Literacy (RAYL) project in the country.
The Minister of State for Education, Chief Nyesom Wike, gave the assurance at the 2014 International Literacy Day with the theme “Literacy for Sustainable Development.” He said the federal government was strengthening public-private synergy in literacy delivery and reviewing activities of stakeholders to articulate workable strategies for better performance.
He said there is the need to shore up support, commitment and drive of all stakeholders, philanthropists and organized private sector involved in mass literacy delivery, if eradicating illiteracy is anything to go by.
Represented by his Special Assitant, Dr. Olu Ayewo, Wike said the large number of adults who could neither read nor write was estimated at 60 million, which was about 38 per cent of the total population of the country.
“The number of children and youth that have not attended school nor completed schooling was estimated at about 10.5 million; thus highlighting the need for all and sundry to redouble efforts to addressing the issue of illiteracy in Nigeria,” he said.
He said the Federal Government had trained 4,800 facilitators nation-wide, and urged state governments to utilize the skills of the facilitators and improve on their allowances and welfare.
In her remarks, Chairman, National Commission for Mass Literacy, Adult and Non-Formal Education, Dr. Esther Uduehi, said huge accumulated backlog of non-literates, lack of public awareness, and inadequate funding at the three tiers of government have hampered the progress in literacy.
“These problems have made the task of achieving a significant rise in literacy rate harder. “We have to gear up the machinery at all levels and put a renewed vigour and concerted efforts to improve our literacy rate,” she said.
Director-General of UNESCO, Ms. Irina Bokova, said about 781 million adults worldwide cannot read, write or count, of which two-third are women while more than 250 million children are unable to read a single sentence, even though half of them have spent four years in school.
“To succeed, we must also change the traditional approach of literacy programmes to encompass, beyond reading and writing in the narrower sense, broader skills with regard to consumption and sustainable lifestyles, conservation of biodiversity, poverty eradication, disaster risk reduction as well as civic participation.
“In these ways, literacy programmes can unlock their full transformative potential,” Bokova, who was represented by the Coordinator of Revitalising Adult and Youth Literacy in Nigeria (RAYL), Mrs. Alice Ateh-Abang, said.
She said her organization was working across the world including Nigeria, to ensure that literacy was integrated into the national development strategies. Bokova appealed to member states and all partners to redouble efforts; politically and financially, to ensure that literacy was fully recognised as one of the most powerful accelerators of sustainable development.
In his address, Gov. Willie Obiano of Anambra said that his administration was paying attention to the adult and non-formal education sub-sector as a tool to addressing the issue of out-of-school boys in the state.
“Though this administration is young, it has put measures in place to improve service delivery in the adult and non-formal education
subsector. “It is now a policy in the state for every new market to have a market school for adult and non-formal education programmes. “The Agency has been adequately supported to establish adult and non-formal education data base, and community dialogue is on-going in the 177 communities in the state on the importance of education and strategies on back-to-school prgrammes,” he said. Obiano, who was represented by his deputy, Dr. Nkem Okeke, commended the Federal Government, NMEC, UNESCO, UNICEF and World Bank for initiating gender responsive programmes that contribute to improvement in education sector.