News / Africa

Northern Nigeria Launches Massive Literacy Campaign

Facilitator Hasiya Mohammed presents geography lessons at City Women's Center in Kano. (Photo Credit: Isiyaku Ahmed)
Facilitator Hasiya Mohammed presents geography lessons at City Women's Center in Kano. (Photo Credit: Isiyaku Ahmed)
Isiyaku Ahmed
Nigeria has one of the world’s highest rates of illiteracy but the Kano State Agency for Mass Education in the north is making major strides to teach more than 400,000 adults and youth who are not in school how to read and write.
 
They face a major challenge, according to statistics reported in Abuja last September by Minister of State for Education Nyesom Wike. The education minister described two major challenges for the Nigerian effort: the number of illiterate Nigerian adults has increased by 10 million over the past two decades, to reach 35 million; the nation also has more than 10 million children who are not in school. The nation's population is an estimated 174 million.

Kano’s state agency for mass education, in coordination with UNESCO's global Education for All (EFA) project, has increased its mass literacy drive with over 8,074 adult literacy classes in 484 electoral wards in 44 local government councils.
 
Some 403,700 people are expected to benefit from the effort to attain 90 percent adult literacy level by 2015 in line with Millennium Development Goals.
 
The adult literacy drive is not just to enable people to read and write but also to create jobs and improve the socio-economic power and living standards of Kano people.
 
The agency has recruited 16,000 facilitators to teach and train students in order to extend its reach to all of the 44 local government councils of the state.
 
Target is young and adult women

Kano City Women Center is one of many learning centers for young and adult women. It serves 965 students including divorcées, married women and young people at its school and 145 more women at the vocational center.
 
The school section teaches English, mathematics, geography, biology, chemistry, economics, and other subjects. At the vocational center, women are trained to make air fresheners, shampoos, pomade and learn how to knit and sew, and make soap.
 
Classes are conducted in the morning and afternoon.
 
Halima Aminu is 25 years old and a mother of three children. She dropped out of school for a lack of financial support. Today, she is in her final year at the senior secondary-school level and hopes to graduate with the best of grades. 
 
“I started attending this school in 2010,” said Aminu. “I am in senior secondary school - SS 3. When I come to school in the morning I will enter my class, when I finish learning - that is, taking lectures- then I will go back home.
 
“I have children, I will teach them and help them to do their homework and take my books to revise.”
 
Aminu hopes to continue her education at tertiary level and someday become a medical doctor.
 
Hasiya Mohammed Adamu is a facilitator at the City Women Center in Kano. She has been teaching senior-secondary section geography, mathematics and English in the school for the last five years.
 
Families present a challenge for students

“There are a lot of challenges but if you are with them and familiar with their behavior, it is very simple to relate with them,” said the facilitator. “The most difficult aspect is their emotional setting. You know, they are adults and have personal problems which most of the time affect them.”
 
Mohammed said the adults at the center are enthusiastic about education. They exhibit a high level of etiquette and are attentive in class.
 
She says sometimes they skip class because they feel reluctant to come to school. If this happens, facilitators visit them at their homes to encourage them to continue with their education. Most of them are married with children who present family problems for the students.
 
Literacy is a major economic issue, says Professor Fatima Umar, the executive secretary of the Kano State Agency for Mass Education.
 
“The most noticeable cause of illiteracy is poverty,” says Professor Umar. “Poverty … is the root cause of delinquent behavior, especially in youths and adults. Apart from that, there is also the societal and governmental aspect.”
 
And government must play a central role in solving illiteracy problem, according to Umar. When government does not commit efforts and resources to tackle illiteracy, you would have widespread of illiteracy in the society.
 
Reading become an economic issue

She says 2011 records from the National Bureau of Statistics, the National Population Commission and the independent National Electoral Commission revealed that about 28.6 percent of youth and adults are illiterates.
 
She also says past efforts aimed at mass literacy yielded some achievements. The agency for mass education maintained the position of pacesetter for all agencies of mass education in Nigeria with the largest adult education program. It also won the UNESCO international merit literacy award in 1983 and 1990.
 
After that, the work of the agency just declined in productivity partly because of government nonchalant attitude or lack of commitment. So many things went wrong and the agency became not so productive.”
 
Professor Umar says when she assumed office at the agency for mass education two years ago, the agency renovated their own offices and the women’s centers, designed new programs.  
 
As you know, education in itself - or literacy - is empowerment,” Umar said. “It gives you power.”
 
The mass education initiative has established systems to evaluate the learning model, the quality of the instruction and the success of the students.

However, Umar says one of the successes of the agency is the increased public awareness of the value of literacy. As a result, their facilities are crowded.
 
Education experts say if the government maintains the political will to teach more Nigerians to read amd write, the target of achieving education for all by 2015 may be achieved in Kano.

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs