Wife of the Vice President, Oludolapo Osinbajo, has stressed the need to eradicate adult and youth illiteracy in the country to enhance national development.
Mrs. Osinbajo, who spoke in Abuja, Thursday, at the one-day private sector lunch by UNESCO in support of Revitalizing Adult and Youth Literacy (RAYL) project, said that Nigeria should focus on tackling illiteracy one person at a time, rather than dwelling on the statistics of illiteracy in the country.
This came in reaction to a survey tracking illiteracy which has revealed that about 65 million Nigerians are still illiterate, according to National Programme Advisor on Education, UNESCO, Regional Office Abuja.
“My first experience of being an illiterate was when I went to the Netherlands. I can’t speak or read Dutch, all the signs were in Dutch. I can’t tell whether it was a nutritious meal or poison. So, that shows how dark and lonely it feels to be an illiterate. You have so much information around you but you cannot access them,” he said.
“Let’s not look at the statistics, let’s look at it individually. Let’s look at the woman that wants to send her children to school but doesn’t have money. Who can compare the joy when a child graduates from school, when a man gets his first job or the ability to employ and pay so many people? Let us have a deeper look so as to achieve greater results,” she said.
In her goodwill message, wife of Kebbi state Governor, Zainab Bagudu, said that her NGO, “Mass Literacy for the less privileged Almajiris”, has sent 300 Almajiris to school and has produced a graduate.
She narrated how she promised an Almajiri boy who refused to go to school N200 per day to convince him to go to school.
In his welcome Address, Benoit Sossou, director, UNESCO Multi-Sectional Regional Office, said that in order to increase the literacy rate of the country, Nigeria initiated the project Revitalizing Adult and Youth Literacy in Nigeria.
“This effort is made possible by the generous intervention of the Federal Government through MDG office which made available financial resources to the tune of one billion Naira self-benefitting funds-in-trust domiciled with UNESCO,” he said.
He added that the (RAYL) programme has made positive impact on the target population by making over 4 million people literate in 146 local government areas out of 774 LGAs between 2012 and 2015.
“This is a far cry from achieving a literate Nigeria,” he said.
He urged the private sector to invest more on a wider range of literacy so as to make more profit out of their businesses.
In his remark, the Minister of Education Adamu Adamu, represented by Aladu Abubakar said that there was still about 50 million adults who cannot read or write a simple sentence in Nigeria.
Also in attendance were representatives of the wives of Ebonyi and Nassarawa state governors, Rachel Umahi and Salamatu Al Makura.