Nigeria: Home of 10.5m out-of-school children, 63m illiterate adults? ~ Welcome to Obinna Onyenali's Blog Welcome to Obinna Onyenali's Blog: Nigeria: Home of 10.5m out-of-school children, 63m illiterate adults?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Nigeria: Home of 10.5m out-of-school children, 63m illiterate adults?

Photo-courtesy of Daily Sun online

This is an alarming headline! I wanted to overlook this when I first saw it, but it was quite ‘un-overlookable’, that might be un-English but has helped in describing my dilemma. So let's look at it together.

What sort of society are we building if 63 million adults, capable of constituting three separate countries are illiterates? Whether this statistics is correct or not, I don’t know; but we have grown to be a country where people place much emphasis on physical cash than the intangible wealth, knowledge. Continue...
The get-rich-quick syndrome has gone out of hand and entered the very nucleus of our society to the extent that a lot of youths are no longer interested in going to school. When placed side by side, an average Nigerian youth will rather choose money than go to school. Everybody wants to be rich overnight. After all, they will ask you, “Those that went to school are they not roaming the streets unemployed?” These are the ones that grow to become adults. Adults who can neither read nor write; adults who cannot address a public forum for fear of emitting grammatical blunders.

Nonetheless, economic hardship in the country has played a vital role in entrenching this ‘culture of illiteracy’ on our people. Poverty is the major culprit in this case. Many families cannot afford three square meals a day, is it a full-fledged education they can afford? For many their 'stomach' comes first.

Illiteracy, no matter the form it appears, shouldn’t be condoned. People should be encouraged to read and write, not just to gain admission into higher institutions, but to be literate enough to communicate with the world around them and have a positive influence. I will appeal to job seekers to look into this situation and maximize the opportunities that abound in it. ‘63m people’ is a huge market to neglect.

Back in school I knew some guys that earned their living simply by teaching and organising night lessons for people who didn’t have the privilege to acquire basic education. There is no effort we put in our bid to eradicate illiteracy that will be too much because knowledge is the driving force of every meaningful development. Together we can make a change, God helping us.

Below is an excerpt from Guardian Newspapers on the issue… 

Last month, the National Commission for Mass Literacy, Adult and Non-Formal Education (NMEC), had                 called on the Federal Government to prioritise adult education in order to provide basic education to millions           of illiterate adult Nigerians, the number, which she put at 63 million. The figure, which represents over one third of the Nigerian population, is also nearly 10 per cent of the world’s 781 million adults who cannot read, write or count. The bulk of them are, however, women. 
Chairman of the NMEC Governing Board, Dr. Esther Uduehi, at a briefing to mark the International Literacy Day (ILD) in Abuja, said that prioritising adult education, aside the formal school system was one sure way of driving down the figure and tackling the issue of mass illiteracy in the country.  
“Sixty three million Nigerians are illiterate; this situation is largely due to low political will to address the issue. This is reflected in poor funding and inconsistent policy implementation, especially at the state and local government levels.’’  Uduehi, who identified factors that help in nurturing illiteracy to include poverty, hunger, disease, maternal death, child mortality and environmental degradation, noted that access to literacy and education remains a basic human right while the lack of literacy skills stems from the scant heed paid to the education of adults who never had the opportunity to go to school as young people.
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Director-General, Mrs. Irina Bokova, who also spoke at the event was emphatic when she said that literacy helps to curtail the frontiers of poverty as it enables people find jobs with which they boost their livelihoods and better their lives and communities.
Represented by the organisation’s Regional Director, Prof. Hassana Aalidu, Bokova specifically decried the quality of teaching and learning in schools across most parts of the world.

“More than 250 million children are unable to read a single sentence, even though half of them have spent four years in school. What kind of societies do we expect to build with an illiterate youth?
“We want a world where everyone can participate in the destiny of their societies, gain access to knowledge and enrich it in turn,’’ she said.
The traditional approach of just learning how to read and write, the United Nation chief cautioned, was incapable of changing the world’s fortune as it pertains to mass literacy.
She therefore advised that literacy programmes should encompass broader skills with regards to consumption and sustainable lifestyles, conservation of biodiversity, poverty reduction, disaster risk reduction and civic participation.

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