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Experts urge gov’t to prioritize literacy

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By Usman Oladimeji

Experts believe literacy will aid in harnessing the country's full potential.

Several individuals still lack basic education despite the fact that education and universal literacy are the cornerstones upon which modern society is formed and maintained. This is perceived as a detrimental factor to the development of the country. A report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) shows that no fewer than 70 percent of Nigerian children are suffering from learning poverty. The report emphasized that many children, even in school, are not learning the fundamental knowledge required for proficiency. Thus, just schooling does not always assure appropriate learning.

Sequel to this, experts have called on the government to ensure that all Nigerians have access to high-quality education and prioritize learning and literacy as basic human rights. Experts believe that focusing on this course will aid in harnessing the country’s full potential and promote development. This was asserted by experts present at the 18th annual conference opening ceremony, the 40th anniversary of the Literacy Promotion Association of Nigeria (LIPAN), formerly known as the Reading Association of Nigeria (RAN). The annual conference tagged “Critical thinking for sustainable living,” was held at Lagos State University, LASU, Ojo.

Increasing literacy rates is said to boost socioeconomic progress.

The president of LIPAN, Professor Graceful Ofodu, recently spoke on the significance of literacy in our society, emphasizing that LIPAN has launched a two-year strategic plan to liberate the country’s population from ignorance through qualitative education. Observing international days and working with organizations like UNICEF and UNESCO are part of the association’s long-term agenda. Adding to the plan’s success has been the creation of a Reading Centre in Opobo, Rivers State, and the distribution of books and reading materials to institutions of learning around the nation.

Prof. Emejulu Obiajulu, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, said that the name change from RAN to LIPAN was made to better align with international standards and the evolution of other similar organizations throughout the world. She claims that the main goals of LIPAN are to increase literacy rates in Nigeria and to leverage that increase to further the country’s socioeconomic progress. Prof. Ibiyemi Olatunji-Bello, Vice Chancellor of LASU, contends that strengthening the course of reducing learning and literacy poverty rates in the country is vital in her speech, in which she also underlined the substantial worth of education to the growth and development of the nation.

UBEC plans to establish 37 smart schools in Nigeria.

According to Dr. Hamid Bobboyi, executive secretary of the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), every effort should be made to deliver a high-quality, well-rounded education to the general public so that the three pillars of progress may be realized: social, political, and economic growth. In addition, he said that the commission has set up 109 ICT centres across the federation’s senatorial districts. Furthermore, UBEC is planning to establish 37 “smart schools” in Nigeria, each of which would be outfitted with state-of-the-art.

The low literacy rate in Nigeria is due to more than simply a lack of motivation or exposure to education. The lack of accessible, low-cost educational resources, particularly for adults, is yet another issue. Poor literacy impacts many parts of an individual’s life, increasing the chance of poverty and the danger of enduring both social and economic hardships, according to empirical data. Illiteracy threatens national aspirations of economic self-sufficiency, poverty reduction, and sustainable development, which hurts long-term prosperity.

Number of Illiterate Nigerians now stands at an estimated 31 percent.

Nigeria has made strides in recent years in eliminating the country’s high illiteracy rate; in some regions, almost every child attends elementary school and graduate’s literate. The number of illiterate Nigerians now stands at an estimated 31 percent. According to a study released in September 2021, the education ministry estimated that out of a total population of 200 million, 38% were illiterate. In spite of the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects, this estimate is claimed to be lower now than it was in 2015.

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