The minister of education, Mallam Adamu Adamu said on Wednesday that Nigeria with a population of about 180 million people has about 60 million illiterate youths and adults.
Adamu, who stated this in Kano at the 2018 International Literacy Day celebration said out of the figure, females accounted for nearly 60 per cent of the population, while a total of 11 million children were out of school.
The minister who was represented by the deputy director, basic and secondary education in the ministry of education, Mr. Prinzo James, said the increasing low level of literacy skills achieved by the millions of learners who completed some formal school education made the situation more complicated.
He said the present state of affairs called for urgent attention as the country strives to ensure the attainment of sustainable development goals (SDGs) by 2030.
“With these unwholesome statistics in our hands, it becomes evident that concerted efforts are required in order to accelerate the processes for combating illiteracy among children, youths and adults.
“Therefore, every effort aimed at bringing together multiple stakeholders should be committed to advancing literacy and lifelong learning, and will receive the support of the ministry of education,” he said.
“The Ministerial Strategic Plan for education sector has considered the importance of youth and adult literacy and gave the sector a prime position in the document.
“I would like to assure you that preparations are underway by the federal government to launch a national mass literacy campaign with a view to addressing the high rate of youth and adult illiteracy in the country,” he said.
Adamu said the theme of the event ‘Literacy and Skills Development’ was apt, as the global trend was on skill development for youths and adults.
He said literacy must be taken beyond the cognitive domain to the critical level that imbues the citizen with thinking skills and functional literacy.
The UNESCO representative, Mr. Stephen Onyekwelu, said the global agency was impressed with the passion the Kano state government has shown in the area of literacy and non-formal education.
Onyekwelu said the new International skills acquisition centre which has 22 different skills, was a practical example of literacy and skills acquisition.
He urged various states to take a cue from what the Kano state government did in the area of skills development.
Onyekwelu said the challenge of literacy was not only in Nigeria but a global problem.
He, however, said the challenge was with the new wave of technology and how the old people would be taught the 21st century demands of technological innovation.
He called for stakeholders support in the fight against illiteracy, saying it was not just the responsibility of the government.
In his remarks, the director general of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Dr. Garba Abari, said literacy could do much more in Nigeria than any other message anyone could preach.
Abari who was represented by the director of state operations, Mr. Metto Edekobi, said “to counter insurgency, literacy must strive and ignorance must die.”
Abari said NOA staff were available to support the National Commission for Mass Literacy (NMEC) in all its programmes.
He also said the agency would partner NMEC to increase the level of literacy.
The director general also advocated for the introduction of civic education in literacy centres, calling on everyone to support the government and NMEC by educating the illiterates in their various communities.
With NAN report