Written by Godfrey AKON

Don advocates literacy policy for Nigeria

A lecturer with Veritas University, Abuja, Prof Gabriel Egbe, has advocated the development of a national policy on literacy to provide minimum benchmark of literacy skills and competencies for Nigerians from primary school to university.

Egbe, who stated this in Abuja while delivering his inaugural lecture, lamented that because of the absence of a literacy policy, “even when estimates are provided for the literacy level of Nigeria, what exactly is measured to determine those literacy levels is speculative.”

The Professor of English noted that the country cannot hope to produce globally competitive citizens when the quantity and quality of the literacy exposure of its students are grossly deficient.

He however disclosed that the Federal Ministry of Education and other stakeholders were working on the development of the first national reading framework for Nigeria.

In the lecture titled “of new Englishes and new literacies,” Egbe also called for more investment to develop Nigerian English to the extent it can be used to assess students in external examinations such as NECO and WAEC.

“In this lecture, it was established that Nigerian English is not a substandard variety of English and Nigerians need not be apologetic in the use of Nigerian English,” he said.

Also speaking, the Vice Chancellor of Veritas University, Prof Hyacinth Ichoku, called for the official recognition of Nigerian English just as Australian, South African, New Zealand, and Canadian English, among others, are recognised. 

Ichoku argued that Nigeria with a huge population had English as its official language and its form of English should be given international recognition, while expressing joy that Veritas University was first to make a bold statement on the recognition of Nigerian English.

The inaugural lecture was the first organised by the university since its inception in 1998.

Earlier in a briefing to mark the inaugural lecture, the Vice Chancellor disclosed that the National Universities Commission, NUC, has granted approval to the university to commence PhD programmes in Political Science and Economics.

He said the programmes would commence in the 2019/2020 academic session, adding that admissions into the programmes had already commenced.

Ichoku also disclosed that the institution currently runs postgraduate programmes in several of its departments including MSc in accounting, microbiology, biochemistry, political science, economics and several others.

“This year we are beginning our PhD programmes in Political Science and Economics. So we are also admitting for the first time in Veritas’ history, candidates into the PhD programmes. We have already gotten the NUC approval for these programmes. It is a sign that Veritas is maturing as a young university,” he said.

Speaking on the inaugural lecture, Ickoku lauded the academic profile of Prof Egbe, describing him as a man the university is proud of since he joined the institution in 2009 and rose through the ranks to become a professor.

“We are celebrating this man who has been part of the story of Veritas. Since 2009 when he joined Veritas and rose through the ranks to become a Professor of Veritas University.

“This is the time for us to celebrate the making of the first professor from Veritas University and we want to showcase him to the Nigerian people and to showcase Veritas University to say that we have come of age,” he said.

In his remarks, Egbe said the lecture would expose the plurality of English languages, stating that no one owns any language except those who speak the language, therefore no one owns English Except those who speak it.

The Professor of English maintained that no one has the prerogative or the birth right to determine what is good or bad English, adding that what we speak in Nigeria as Nigerian English is not inferior to any brand of English anywhere in the world.

He stretched his argument further to state that Nigerian standard of English cannot be drawn from British or American English as no language is inferior to another language.

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