EDUCATION ministry officials have published startling statistics showing that there are almost 60m illiterates in Nigeria pointing out that there is a need to address the crisis as part of the government’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) programme.
Speaking yesterday at the Federal Government College Otobi in Benue State during the inauguration of a pilot Literacy Centre for the north-central zone, Sonny Echono, the permanent secretary in the Federal Ministry of Education, assured that literacy centres will be opened to reduce the high level of illiteracy in the country. He expressed regret that the illiteracy rate among the youth and adults is high, saying that the literacy level at the lower cadre of the colleges is also alarming.
According to Mr Echono, literacy centres to be established in 104 federal government colleges are aimed at addressing the problem. He said literacy was both a social and human rights issue and called on the learners at the pilot centre to remain committed and take their studies with all seriousness.
Furthermore, he stressed that the essence of the scheme is to fit into the SDGs especially the one which highlights inclusive and equitable quality education and promotion of long learning opportunities. Mr Echono explained that the programme would equip its beneficiaries with literacy and numeracy skills to be able to handle challenges of life.
Stephen Ojo, from the office of the senior special assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari, on SDGs, commended the foresight of the education ministry in designing the programme and promised to provide technical support to the ministry towards its success. He emphasised that the scheme would help build capacities and skills of all the participants.
Amudipe Gabriel, the FGC Otobi principal, commended the permanent secretary for his doggedness in ensuring that the programme began in earnest and for making his school the centre in the zone. Abisode Olayiwola, the coordinator of the programme, said the response from learners in the school and host community far exceeded the instructional materials made available.
He added: “We targeted 40 learners but what we had was twice that number. We are impressed by the turnout and we will make arrangements for all of them.”