The Nigerian Government has restated commitment to improve the country’s literacy index by widening the fight against illiteracy in its adult and youth population.
Speaking at a press briefing to mark the 2023 International Literacy Day on Friday, in Abuja, the Minister of Education, Prof. Tahir Mamman, said eliminating illiteracy from Nigeria is a top priority of the President Bola Tinubu-led administration.
Mamman said the ministry would work hard to achieve improvement in the literacy level of the country.
According to him, the ministry would continue to leverage on the existing progress and transformation in the development of literacy, while setting the stage for lifelong learning of the Nigerian adults and youths.
“We would continue to rethink the fundamental importance of functional literacy as a necessary panacea that will help build resilience and ensure quality, equitable and inclusive education for all,” he said.
He noted that the current administration is determined to do things differently to make Nigeria achieve what it has not achieved since independence.
“The matter of illiteracy is one of the top priorities of the president which we put forward at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting. The president does not want a single Nigerian to remain illiterate.
“Illiteracy is a scourge; a disease and we are not going to allow it to continue. We have the directives of the president and our own personal resolve.
“In days and weeks ahead, we will be engaging the public, we have policies on ground but what has been the problem is the delivery of those policies. We will not allow any obstacles in our ways from achieving these goals,” he said.
Also speaking, the National Programme Officer and Literacy, UNESCO Regional Office, Abuja,
Dr Stephen Onyekwelu, said UNESCO is currently supporting the mass literacy, adult and non-formal education of the government in reviewing the policy guidelines for non-formal education in the country.
Onyekwelu, who read the message of the Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, said the world had achieved significant strides in closing the illiteracy gap, adding that UNESCO would continue to support the literacy efforts in countries all over the world.
“In the space of 40 years, significant progress has been made. 3.6 billion people have learned to read and write, raising the global literacy rate from 68 per cent in 1979 to 86 per cent in 2020.
“However, the current situation is still rife with injustice and inequality. At the halfway point in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, 244 million school-age children are still not in school.
“98 million of them in sub-Saharan Africa. At the same time, 773 million adults still cannot read or write-two thirds of them women.
“Over and above illiteracy, learning gaps still too often lead to incomplete literacy: six out of ten children attending school at the age of ten cannot read and understand a simple text,” he said.
The theme for the 2023 commemoration was tagged: “Promoting literacy for a world in transition: Building the foundation for sustainable and peaceful societies.”