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

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora