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

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs