SUSTAINING MASS LITERACY EFFORTS IN NIGERIA
By Temitope Mustapha
Literacy is one of the fundamental human right s recognised in the universal decl a ration of rights which goes beyond the mere skill of reading and writing. It is a process of transformation that empowers the individual and broadens critical thinking.
According to the United Nations Education and Cultural Organization, (UNESCO) Nigeria has one of the lowest literacy rates in the world, with about seven hundred and seventy-five million people still considered non-literate while 85 percent live in 41 countries , including Nigeria.
The report also shows that a bout 40 million adults in Nigeria are illiterate and the overall literacy rate is close to fifty-seven percent. Only about five hundred thousand people are enrolled in adult literacy classes nationwide which translates in to one out of every 80 illiterate Nigerians.
The United S tates Agency for international development , also in its report , states that there are 30million primary school age children in Nigeria but an estimated 10 million are not enrolled in school.
There is no denying the fact that education as a whole is insufficiently funded in Nigeria, and the country is yet to comply with the UNESCO recommendation that 26 percent of annual budget should be spent on education.
The Nigeria n government's effort and commitment was boosted recently by the signing of a memorandum of understanding with UNESCO to develop and co-ordinate the implementation of a project that would revitalize adult and youth literacy in Nigeria.
Th is latest national effort to address the prevalent low literacy level can be seen in t he Federal government 's intervention in the area of provid ing financial resources to the tune of one billion Naira.
In order to remedy the situation and accelerate literacy in Nigeria , UNESCO launched a two-pronged approach which involves significant advocacy and investment in both formal quality basic education, and youth as well as adult literacy.
The hope of the forty million illiterate adults across the nation was also recently revived by a UNESCO technical support project to assist the authorities in reducing the rate to a considerable level.
Another major way UNESCO aim s to help increase literacy rate in Nigeria is the designing of a roadmap for literacy development which seeks to strengthen institutional and individual capacities to plan, develop, deliver and monitor quality literacy programmes that would enable people acquire basic and functional literacy skills.
Recent statistics indicate that seventeen out of the country's thirty -six states plus the F ederal C apital Territory are at risk of not achieving the education - for - all goal by 2015 , as they have children and adult literacy rates between 14.5 and 49.3 percent.
Also, the fact that a huge proportion of children , mostly of the northern muslim and pastoralist population remain excluded and are denied rights to education, calls for a re-examination of the current advocacy, sensitization and mobilization process .
Efforts are on though to improve on community education and literacy through the radio, which would be enhanced by the use of mother tongue.
Another n ational programme being seriously implemented now is the Strategic Framework for Mass literacy which will provide the country with a basic platform to seriously and comprehensively address the perennial challenges militating against the delivery of quality literacy programmes in the non-formal sub-sector of the country's education system.
With these efforts geared towards increas ing the literacy rate, coupled with government spend ing of at least 26-30 percent of its annual budget on education and UNESCO's support, there is hope that the literacy profile of Nigeria will improve considerably soon.
Broadcast on Saturday February 04, 2013
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