Nigeria has 64 million adult illiterates – Official

Adult studentsThe National Mass Education Commission (NMEC) says 64 million Nigerian adults are illiterate.

The Chairman of the Governing Board of the Commission, Esther Udehi, made this known on Monday in Awka during a courtesy call to the Deputy Governor of Anambra State, Nkem Okeke.

She said the trend is worrisome.

The visit was part of the activities lined up to mark the International Literacy Day (ILD) in the state.

Mrs. Udehi said Nigeria’ s dream of attaining the Education For All (EFA) Goal 2015 would become elusive except something was urgently done to reverse the trend.

“It is a shame that in the 21st century we should be having such a number of illiterates.

“It is thing of concern to everyone.”

She said the ILD celebration was, therefore, an opportunity for the commission to drum up support for adult literacy.

The chairman tasked states to ensure that the 774 local government areas were well equipped and empowered to be the “hearts of advocacy” for literacy.

She noted that the laudable policies of government at all levels could not be achieved with such a large population of illiterates in the country.

“We all know that an illiterate is a danger, not only to himself, but to the society at large,” Mr. Udehi said.

In his response, Mr. Okeke said that the Anambra Government was conscious of the enormous challenges confronting the education sector, especially in terms of achieving the EFA Goal.

Mr. Okeke said the government was committed to ensuring that Anambra became one of the states with the largest population of educated people.

The deputy governor, therefore, pledged the state’s support for the non-formal education sector to achieve this set goal.

The shocking revelation that 64 million adults are illiterates appears a national disgrace for a country that is one of the world’s largest oil producers.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation in 2013 released an equally shocking report indicating that one out of every five Nigerian children is out of school.

The UNESCO Education for All Global Monitoring Report (EAGMR) says Nigeria holds the world record of having the highest number of its young people out of school.

With approximately 10.5 million kids out of school, Nigeria dominates twelve other countries with which it accounts for 47 percent of the global out-of-school population.

The other countries are Pakistan (5.1 million); Ethiopia (2.4million); India (2.3million); Philippines (1.5million); Cote D’Ivoire (1.2million); Burkina Faso (1million); Niger (1million); Kenya (1million); Yemen (0.9million); Mali (0.8million) and South Africa (0.7million).

And of all these countries, UNESCO says Nigeria is among the four that has experienced the highest increase since 1999.

Although, UNESCO officials blame the drop in school enrolment in some countries on the decrease in aid between 2010 and 2011, anecdotal evidence suggests that the monumental corruption at all levels of government might have worsened Nigeria’s case.

In Nigeria, officials routinely steal funds appropriated for building classrooms, buying textbooks and implementing programmes that should bring more children to school.

Recently some officials were indicted for stealing funds released to the nomadic education commission, an agency charged with the responsibility of getting Fulani herdsmen to enroll their kids in school.

“This is a shame for our country,” says Femi Falade, a private school owner in Ijebu-Ode. “President Jonathan and state governors should bury their heads in shame.”