From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
The Federal Government said on Wednesday that it has mapped out a plan to make two million Nigerians literate annually.
The government predicted that the empowerment would enable the beneficiaries to uplift their status and contribute to self and national development.
The Executive Secretary of the National Commission for Mass Literacy, the Adult and Non-Formal Education (NMEC), Prof Simon Ibor Akpama, who spoke at the launch of a nationwide Rural Facilitators’ Scheme (RFS), in Owerri, Imo State, said the Federal Government has a serious interest in the literacy of Nigerians, hence the launch of the mass literacy advocacy.
He explained that the mass advocacy was aimed at addressing the myriads of challenges confronting the adult and non-formal education sub-sector.
He listed the challenges to include inadequate and irregular payment of facilitator’s allowances by many states, as well as identifying and closing capacity gaps in the number of facilitators required to meet up with the huge number of non-literate adults and youths.
‘Due to current challenges, mainly lack infrastructure and paucity of funds, our immediate target is to make a little over 11,000 learners literate within the next seven months,’ he said.
He explained that the rural facilitator’s scheme symbolises the Commission’s determination to involve states and local governments to live up to their statutory responsibility in the provision of mass literacy to all categories of underserved learners.
‘The overall fundamental aim is to improve the lives of adults and adolescents who have never been to school and can neither read nor write and for whom basic literacy and numeracy skills could open a gate to lifelong learning,’ he said.
‘It’s also for adults and adolescents who are above school-going age but have not achieved reading, writing and numeracy competencies; young adults who left school before acquiring basic education due to factors such as conflict, unwanted pregnancy, ill-health or death of parent and of course, early school leavers who could not stay on to achieve permanent literacy for effective relevant skills and knowledge that would enable them to make appropriate life decisions.’
Prof Akpama called on the facilitators to put in their best effort, stating that the high number of the non-literate adult population is further worsened by the equally high number of out-of-school children occasioned by several factors.
According to him, ‘the statistics and figures with regards to literacy in Nigeria compared to the world at large is a wide berth considering the situation in the country coupled with the problems of insurgency and unrest, which has brought about a rapid increase in the number of out-of-school boys and girls.’