By Favour Nnabugwu
Worried by the huge number of illiterate Nigerians, including adults and children; the Federal Government has inaugurated a 22-man technical committee for the 2012 National Mass Literacy Campaign comprising Chief Segun Odegbami, Chief Abdul-Rasheed Aderinoye and 20 others.
Odegbami, renowned footballer and Deputy Executive Secretary of Universal Basic Education Commission, UBEC and Prof. Aderinoye are in the 22-man committee chaired by Alhaji Jubrin Paiko, Executive Secretary of
National Commission for Mass Literacy, Adult Education and Non-Formal Education (NMEC).
Minister of State for Education, Barr. Nyesom Wike during the inauguration in Abuja recalled that the 2006 National population census puts Nigeria’s population at about 140 million, adding that of that figure, 75, 751, 576 including adults and children could neither read nor write.
He, therefore, attributed the slow progress made towards mass literacy in the country to unemployment and poverty.
The committee has been directed to reduce mass illiteracy of 66.2 billion Nigerians to barest minimum.
“Out of the 167 million Nigerians, over 56 millions adults representing 35 per cent of the major population are illiterate whilst 54 per cent of that figure are women with an additional 10.2 million being school aged children out of formal school.” Of the illiteracy figure of 60.2 million, Wike said that 15 million of them are nomads, migrant farmers, fishermen and cattle-rearers.
He regretted the inability of past governments to pay attention to that segment of the country’s population which had constituted a menace in the nation. “Ignoring this huge population of illiterates constitutes a very serious threat to Nigeria’s economic developmental efforts.”
The committee is to, under its terms of reference, organise and launch a national mass literacy campaign; collaborate with notable individuals, philanthropists, corporate institutions and multinational companies to support the programme while the committee is to persuade private sector, civil society groups and faith-based organisations to participate in the campaign.
Responding on the task before the committee, Paiko said the committee would endeavour to sensitise the minds of the people on the importance of education to among other things, erase poverty from the country and give them better understanding of what democracy stands for.
Paiko blamed the fruitless efforts of the past administrations on poor funding of adult literacy programmes and lack of cooperation from stakeholders which had drawn the country backward.Vanguard Nigeria