“That the issue of youth and adult illiteracy be adequately addressed”.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, UNESCO, on Sunday emphasised the need for the Federal Government to address the issues of out-of-school children, youth and adult illiteracy.
The UNESCO Regional Director, Hassana Alidou, said this at the forum in Abuja.
Mr. Alidou noted that the issues, if not properly addressed, had a negative impact on investments the Federal Government had made in line with achieving the Education for All, EFA, goals 2015.
“Nigeria is a huge country. In certain areas like Goal 1 (Universal access to learning), Nigeria is doing well but when you look at the out-of-school children, also the number of youth and adult who are illiterate this tends to have a negative impact on the huge investment that Nigeria is doing in basic education.
“2015 as far as we are concerned is yesterday; now we are discussing post 2015 and in post 2015, we are telling countries like Nigeria: it’s very important that the issue of out-of-school children be eradicated.
“That the issue of youth and adult illiteracy be adequately addressed so that we do not have this huge gap.
“Looking at EFA Goal 4, which is addressing youth and adult literacy, we know that it is not achievable by 2015.
“But what we know that Nigeria has done is to recognise that this is a challenge that needs to be addressed.”
According to the 11th EFA Global Monitoring Report 2013/14 Nigeria has the world’s largest number of 10.5 million children out of school and will likely be “off track by 2015”.
The report also noted that a key reason levels of youth literacy remains low is due to people’s lack of access to quality education and the slow pace in the expansion of school systems.
The UNESCO representative said there is a need for the government to enhance capacity building at the state levels to tackle the challenges to quality education.
“The presidency has allocated 6.4 million U.S. dollars and this fund has been placed at UNESCO as fund in trust.
“Forty million illiterate people is huge; obviously 6.4 million dollars is not enough but 6.4 million dollars is a seed money which allows us do institutional capacity building.
“Through this fund, UNESCO can say that not only the National Commission for Mass Education but all the state agencies and certain local agencies are ready to implement this.
“At the state level do we have the capacity to finance literacy? It is not only at the federal level that investment should be made to address the issue of out-of-school children, youth and adults who are illiterate.
“But also at the state level and at the local government level that proper investment for now and the future should be made so that we don’t talk just about EFA, we talk about how to drastically eradicate this gap so that we have children, youth and adult who have access to quality education for the development of Nigeria.”
Ms. Alidou noted that the EFA 2015 was a planning tool for governments to identify the types of investments to make in achieving a common goal of effectively educating citizens.
She added that enhancing access to quality would make it “less difficult, within a particular time frame, to have good citizens who can take up the challenge of development”.