The Federal Government on Tuesday disclosed that more than 76 million adults, representing 38 per cent of the estimated 200 million population of Nigeria, cannot read and write despite increasing efforts to improve literacy levels in the country.
Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, who made this known at a news conference marking the 2021 International Literacy Day (ILD), celebration in Nigeria, added this was in addition to the burden of over 6.9 million children who are out of school.
He also expressed fears that the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic might hinder the realization of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Target 4.6.
The Minister said: “As you are aware, it is estimated that over 6.9 million children are out of school.
“This is in addition to the estimated 38% of non-literate adult Population.
“Investing in Education of the parents will have a ripple effect on the reduction of out of school children.
“It is a fact that non-literate parents are more likely to breed out of school children, thereby compounding the phenomenon facing our nation today,” he said.
Adamu noted that Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 calls on countries to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
He added that SDG Target 4.6 requires that by 2030, member states should ensure that all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy.
The aim is that by 2030, all young people and adults across the world should have achieved relevant and recognised proficiency levels in functional literacy and numeracy skills that are equivalent to levels achieved at the successful completion of basic education.
“Regrettably the advent of COVID 19 pandemic has disrupted the learning of children, young people and adults at an unprecedented scale which might likely hinder the realization of SDG Target 4.6,” he said.
The Minister, therefore, noted that the theme “Literacy for a Human-Centred Recovery: Narrowing the Digital Divide” was apt and timely considering the focus and Change Agenda of this administration to reposition all sectors of the economy including Education.
The representative of UNESCO Director-General at the event, Mammadou Lamine Sow, said the COVID-19 pandemic has presented a new array of challenges for the education sector requiring not only a paradigm shift but the rethinking of education.
Lamine Sow said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has been the worst disturbance to education and training systems in a century, with the longest school closures affecting more than 1.6 billion learners at its peak time.
“According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) by November 2020, the average child had lost 54 percent of a year’s contact time, which could be interpreted as the loss of over a year’s learning if the time of forgetting what was previously acquired is counted.
“The COVID-19 crisis has confirmed the fragility of many youth and adult literacy programmes, systems and policies as represented by the abrupt suspension of numerous programmes,” he said.
In November 1966, (UNESCO proclaimed 8th September of every year as the International Literacy Day (ILD), to draw global attention to the status of literacy and lifelong learning, as well as highlight the linkage between literacy and the development of individuals and Nations.
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