By: Mayen Etim
KADUNA, North-West, Nigeria – The Minister of Education, Alhaji Adamu Adamu, has said females account for nearly sixty per cent of Nigeria’s illiterate population, saying these are indications that the country has to rededicate itself to war against illiteracy by focusing more intensely on the girl child and women education in order to realize its development aspirations.
He stated this at the opening of a two-day 2018 Northern Nigeria Education Summit tagged: “Effective Planning and Management for Improved Basic Education in Northern Nigeria”, in Kaduna on Thursday, July 26, 2018.
According to the Minister, basic education structure in Nigeria includes adult and non-formal education programs, almajiri education programs and education for out-of-school children and youths.
He said it is a well known fact that the percentage of Nigeria’s budget committed to education is very low and over 90 per cent of the Federal and State Governments annual appropriations for the sector are committed to payment of staff salaries and allowances with virtually nothing allocated to Research and Development and less than 10 per cent for capital projects and procurement of teaching materials.
He added that it is expedient to note that Adult and Non-formal Education is a component of educational system that is the most neglected, noting that by the 2010 figures of the National Bureau of Statistics, the illiterate population was said to be 38 per cent of nation’s population (approximately 60 million people).
“More worrisome is that illiterate females account for nearly 60 per cent of the country’s illiterate population. These are indications that the country has to rededicate itself to the war against illiteracy by focusing more intensely on the girl child and women education in order to realize its development aspirations.
“For instance, if at least ten literacy centres are established in each of the 9,572 wards each centre enrolling at most 30 learners, in two sessions per annum, 5.7 million adults would be made literate under the national literacy campaign.
“Thus, by 2019, about 23 million people would be literate, which will be a significant leap. Significantly, this figure could be increased by 20-25 per cent if effective mobilization of the civil society sector is aggressively carried-out. It is possible to achieve a threshold of 50 per cent reduction in illiteracy figure by the year 2020,” he said.
In his keynote address, the Plateau State Commissioner for Education, Honourable Jude Dakur, said it was sad to note that northern states are lagging behind in terms of educational achievements.
Dakar said Nigeria’s educational system is bedeviled with challenges that makes it difficult to acquire qualitative education that is capable of bringing about sustainable development especially in the north.
He called on stakeholders from the region to explore viable avenues to bridge the gap between northern and southern parts of the country, adding that no educational development can effectively be achieved due to inadequate financial resources at its disposal.
“In the north we still have children being taught under trees. No effective teaching/learning activities can be good enough in such environments.
“More funds should be allocated to the primary and secondary school where literacy begins. Literature has revealed that literacy is very low in the north. How can we develop educationally when our children cannot read and write from the primary to secondary schools, especially those in public schools.
“The girl child should not be treated as a second class citizen. Women are not meant to cook, their place is not in the kitchen. The northern states should advocate for women education. When you train a female, you train a nation. Even when a woman marries, she can still go to school. Scholarship can entice the female population, ” he said.
Earlier, the host Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai who was represented by a Deputy Director Educational Services, in the State Ministry of Education, Umar Husamatu said education as an area of human development cannot go without some challenges; but this could be overcome with necessary interaction with stakeholders.
According to him, in Kaduna State there was greater increase in enrolment of learners into schools as encouraged by the provision of free basic education; uniforms to secondary schools learners; payment of increased argumentation on students feeding in boarding schools; provision of computer tablets – 15,000 to boarding students and some female day secondary schools.
“Other areas of success in the state includes; replacement of blackboards with magnetic boards and markers; renovation and rehabilitation of over 400 primary schools. Rebuilding program has also changed the situation of 62 schools,” he said.