‘Curb rising illiteracy, reduce poverty, social strife,’ firm counsels Nigeria

Muhtar-BakareLatest figures from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) puts Nigeria’s total adult literacy rate at 51.1 per cent. This makes Nigeria one of the worst performing countries in the world in this area. And matter are made worse with the net primary school enrolment across the country put at just 65.7 per cent, a development that strengthens the fact that Nigeria’s illiteracy epidemic may remain a major issue for decades to come.

Empirical finding are unequivocal in their conclusions that poor literacy affects many aspects of an individual’s life, increasing the likelihood of poverty and the risk of experiencing both social and economic strife.

On a national level, there is a significant corresponding negative impact on long-term prosperity as illiteracy poses immense threat to the country’s specific goals of economic self-sufficiency, poverty reduction and sustainable development.

It is in the light of this that Pearson, world’s largest learning company’s has counseled that reversing the country’s illiteracy trend should be at the heart of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s new education agenda.

The firm further counseled that the Nigerian education reform would only be viewed to be successful and capable of standing the test of time if they significantly contribute to addressing the country’s alarming illiteracy rate

According to Pearson’s Managing Director in Nigeria, Muhtar Bakare, “It is difficult to progress in other areas of education when our population is not reading and writing at basic levels. There is no easy solution to Nigeria’s literacy challenge – a long-term commitment is needed to address illiteracy amongst all age groups and in all areas of the country. We need to not only ensure 100 per cent enrolment of children in school, but also ensure that these children remain in school and are learning while they are there. With around 40 million adults illiterate in Nigeria, teaching adults how to read and write must also be a priority.”

Bakare acknowledges the work already undertaken in tackling Nigeria’s illiteracy problem by both government agencies and non-governmental organisations such as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). Working with the National Commission for Mass Literacy, Adult and Non-Formal Education, UNESCO has already trained over 5, 000 facilitators from across the six geo-political zones to address illiteracy.

Over recent years, Nigeria has made progress in reducing illiteracy, with some parts of the country enjoying near universal primary school enrolment and literacy. However, for too many Nigerians especially females and particularly in the rural areas, literacy remains out of reach. If we want Nigeria to meet its potential and become a prosperous, modern society, we must urgently address illiteracy amongst these parts of the population, giving all Nigerians the opportunity to realise their potential.

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