In realisation that education is the bedrock of the development of any society, the federal government has earmarked the sum of $6.43million “self benefiting Trust Fund” for the delivery of quality literacy programme for estimated 40 million illiterate Nigerians by the year 2015.
The project, which is a scheme under a three-year strategic framework aimed at revitalising adult and youth literacy project, was designed to meet the Education For All (EFA) goals and education related Millennium Development Goals’ (MDGs) target by the year 2015.
The executive secretary, National Commission for Mass Education (NCME), Alhaji Jibrin Paiko disclosed this in Ilorin, Kwara State at a workshop for 111 adult and youth facilitators in three selected local government areas of Baruten, Edu and Kaiama.
The workshop which was held simultaneous in Lagos, Edo and Kwara States, Paiko said, is geared towards improving the skills and knowledge of about 4,107 mass literacy education facilitators across the country at the average of 111 per state.
The training of the facilitators was organised by NCME in collaboration with UNESCO, within the context of the ongoing three-year (2012 – 2015) strategic framework aimed at revitalising adult and youth literacy project.
The NCME secretary said that, “I should emphasise the laudable support received from the federal government of Nigeria for this project through the provision of the sum of $6.43m self-benefiting trust-in-fund. The overall objective of this programme is to strengthen national capacity for the delivery of quality literacy programmes to the estimated 40 million illiterates in Nigeria in order to achieve Education for All (EFA) goals and education related MDGs, by the 2015 target year.
“In May, this year, 433 master trainers were trained nationwide by the selected training institutions (universities of Ibadan, Maiduguri, Kano, Nigeria, Benin and IBB University, Lapai) in the six geo-political zones of the country.
“This training programme is simultaneously taking place in four states (Edo, Lagos Kwara and Osun). The general objective of this training is to improve the skills and knowledge (including the skills and attitude needed for personal and community development) of about 4,107 facilitators across the country at the average of 111 facilitators per state”, he said.
The specific objectives of the workshop include, to enable grassroots field-workers in adult basic education improve the quality of programmed delivery, to update facilitators’ knowledge on the current and most innovative ways of discharging their duties, to equip facilitators with the skills and knowledge that will enable them to function effectively in contemporary society and to acquaint trainees with monitoring and reporting skills.
Paiko praised commissioners for Education in the country for pledging their commitment to, among other things, utilise the services of the 111 facilitators that participated in the workshop.
He expressed optimism that states would continue to, recruit and adequately remunerate literacy teachers/facilitators, mobilise public education facilities/resources, information and media outlets in advocacy and programme implementation, create access by setting up centres (classes) and providing teaching and learning materials, establish, rehabilitate and operationalise State Resource Centres (SRC) for literacy and lifelong learning in each state and ensure quality, collaboration, and mobilisation of all stakeholders for support.
“Our expectations from the local government authorities include, among other things recruitment and target setting for the facilitators in line with the minimum benchmark, payment of facilitators allowance, effective management of centres, provision and distribution materials and equipment to centres, and sensitisation of the target groups.
“The success of our literacy programme nationwide and Nigeria’s attainment of the EFA goal especially goal IV, depend to a very large extent on the effective discharge of the roles/ responsibilities of the state and local government administrations”, the NCME secretary stated.
He noted that Nigeria, like other Sub-saharan African countries, is facing huge challenges of high number of illiterates which comprises mostly of out-of-school children, youth and adults who have never attended school, saying that “a large percentage of these are girls and young women”.
Explaining that the ongoing Revitalising Adult and Youth Literacy project focuses on the promotion of access, equity, quality and innovations in Non-formal education through the integration of functional, vocational, and entrepreneurial skills into basic literacy, Paiko disclosed that the direct impact of the project is to empower the target learners and encourage wealth creation as well as economic growth.
He added, “similarly, vocational skills, provided by the states, are being planned for harmonisation into national curriculum for effective coordination in line with the National Operational Standard (NOS).
“We are optimistic that the outcome of this training programme would contribute immensely to the successful implementation of Revitalising Adult and Youth Literacy project (RAYL). This will enable Nigeria to respond comprehensively to the poor literacy indices reported in the recent 2012 EFA Global Monitoring Report (GMR)”.
In his remarks, the Kwara State commissioner for Education and Human capital development, Alh. Saka Onimago said each of the 111 facilitators in the state “is expected to establish a literacy centre in your local government area and enroll at least 24 adults and youths illiterates that will be made literate within a period of nine months. This task must be fulfilled”.
Onimago was represented at the workshop by the ministry’s permanent Secretary, Alh. Mohammed Alabi.
“This is a unique opportunity to move literacy forward and reduce the rate of illiteracy in Nigeria and Kwara State in particular to its lowest ebb. The consequent effect is reduction of poverty, poor environmental condition, increase in income level and political awareness and participation”, the commissioner stated.
Onimago restated the commitment of both the federal and Kwara State government to providing access to basic education for all segments of the populace.
He added that, “the present administration in the state is fully committed to the training and retraining of youths and adults that may have been in one way or the other denied access to formal education so as to make them useful and productive citizens of our great nation. This is in line with our human capital development objectives.
“You must therefore, give this assignment the utmost attention it deserves as Kwara State in particular and Nigeria as a whole intend to achieve education for all (EFA) and Millennium Development (MDGs) by year 2020”.
Also speaking, the chairman of the state’s Agency for Mass Education, Chief Olabode Adekanye commended UNESCO for sponsoring the trainer workshop aimed at improving the adult literacy level, health improvement and self employment in order to meet up the 2020 MDG vision.
He also thanked the state governor, Alhaji AbdulFatah Ahmed for the passion and commitment which he has demonstrated at ensuring that the agency moves forward in all ramifications.
He, however, appealed to the state government to address some of the problems militating against the agency’s performance, adding that “the state government should as a matter of urgency procure vehicle for monitoring the new centres established by UNESCO and local government areas and deploy more staff to the agency”.