The National Commission for Mass Literacy, Adult and Non-Formal Education (NMEC) has called on policy makers and education stakeholders to ensure no one was deprived from accessing quality basic education.
Prof. Akpama Ibor, the Executive Secretary of the commission disclosed this in Abuja on Thursday at an annual conference to mark the 2021 International Literary Day (ILD) Celebration.
The event was also to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Nigerian National Council for Adult Education (NNCAE).
The event with the theme “Literacy for a Human-Centred Recovery: Narrowing the Digital Divide”, was aimed at drawing global attention to the status of literacy and lifelong learning.
It would be recalled that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) proclaimed Sept.8 of every year as the ILD to highlight the symbiotic synergy between literacy and the development of individuals and nations.
Ibor noted that there cannot be meaningful or sustainable development of a nation if a large number of her citizens remained non-literate.
“ In spite of determined and concerted efforts aimed at attaining a high literacy level in Nigeria, illiteracy has remained a daunting and herculean problem in any part of the country.
“It is frightening and embarrassing that an estimated 6.9 million children are out of school. This is in addition to the estimated 38% of non-literate adult population.
“ Unfortunately, the advent of COVID-19 pandemic has further compounded and multiplied the problem of adult and non- formal education sub-sector in an unprecedented scale which might likely hinder the realisation of SDG target 4.6.
“ In a world where knowledge is truly power, we all have a responsibility as policy makers, parents, educators, citizens and indeed major stakeholders to ensure no one is deprived from accessing quality education,” he said.
The executive secretary regretted the low level of digital (ICT) literacy for the adult and non-formal education sub-sector in the country.
He said that there was need to deploy digital tools to education so as to make learning process more flexible, adequate and efficient.
He also added that the facilitators must also be equipped with requisite knowledge and skills on how to maximally utilise the digital skill.
Ibor therefore said that the commission had been maximising opportunities provided by ICT resources especially the radio to bring literacy and numeracy closer to the people thereby making learning easier, simpler and more motivational.
He congratulated NNCAE on her 50th anniversary while commending them on their role in the inclusion of adult education in the country.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu has recommended that a systematic adult education policy as well as a comprehensive education and training opportunities for adult be adopted to ensure sustainable development.
Adamu, represented by the Minister of State for Education, Mr Chukuemeka Nwajiuba, said this would expose adults to the various professional, vocational and other programmes of interest.
He noted that adult education could be used in enhancing human capacity for sustainable development in the country, hence the need to support and increase strategy to ensure education for all.
He identified challenges of illiteracy to include poor budget, societal perception of adult education teaching centres and training and retraining of instructors, Ming others.
“ Adult education programmes in Nigeria need to be incorporated into innovations that make the 21st century unique especially the fundamental knowledge and practice of information and communication technology.
“The 21st century is characterised with expositions of knowledge and the technologies which has aided development in different sectors, adult education not lagging behind.
Also, Prof. Abdulla Adamu from the Department of Information and Media Studies, Bayero University, Kano said that women and youths were exploring the advantages of digital economy through the various social media platforms.
Adamu said digital bridge was slowly being built by communities even without specific government intervention.
He said this development needed a stronger push so that the country could take her place globally.
He, therefore, called on NMEC to make the difference by changing the paradigm of its delivery from numeracy and literacy to exclusively digital literacy.
He said this was the only way to build a digital bridge to connect the various classes of digital citizens.
The World Bank Senior Education Specialist, Dr Olatunde Adekola, challenged NMEC to key into the World Bank Better Education Service Delivery for All (BESDA) project to address adult and non-formal education.
Adekola said that the biggest challenge to basic education was having equitable access to quality education, hence the need to leverage on digital literacy to transforming every sector of the country.
He charged the government to ensure accountability, align incentives to those actions that would improve adult and non-formal education as well as ensure proper use of resources from donor organisations.