The concept of Illiteracy is one of the greatest ills of today’s society. Like a virus, it grows on a people with stealth and gradually deprives them of a ‘healthy’ existence. Around the world, the African continent has suffered more than any other from the resultant effects of ignorance and underdevelopment; both of which are a result of illiteracy and lack of formal education. This article will provide an overview of the current situation of literacy in the country with specific consideration and analysis of the foundation of the Nigerian education system, its progression and regression as well as the tendencies of indiscipline, poverty, crime, corruption, child bride and mortality rate and other vices associated to illiteracy that may eventually collapse whatever little sense of dignity or value this country has left should this trend continue with little or next to no form of control.
In April 2000, a gathering of over 1,100 representatives from 164 countries held in Dakar, Senegal, for the World Education Forum. Professionals and stakeholders from all over the world and in various fields ranging from teachers to prime ministers, academics to policymakers, non-governmental bodies to the heads of major international organisations were present and they adopted what is known as the Dakar Framework for Action, Education for All: Meeting Our Collective Commitments. The agreement contained therein commited governments to take up the task of achieving achieving quality basic education for all by 2015 or earlier, with particular emphasis on educating the girl child.
Now, 15 years later, what looked achievable and promising back then is farthest from becoming a reality. With illiteracy on the steady increase and practically unproductive efforts to tackle this issue, Nigeria is very likely and prone to experiencing more setbacks, challenges and consequently, slow development.
In 2013, A report by Education For All (EFA) Global Monitoring stated that Nigeria’s population of illiterate adults had increased by 10 million within the space of two decades, from 25 million to 35 million. This was confirmed by the then Minister of State for Education, Ezenwo Nyesom Wike, who described the situation as “embarassing” at a ministerial briefing to commemorate the 2013 International Literacy Day. He stated that the total number of illiterates as at 2013 had increased to about 45.5 million people comprising of 35 million adult illiterates and 10.5 million children out of school. He also stated that should this number continue to increase, security problems will be a major threat and with growing security problems, governing will become more problematic. This will of course become repelling to investors and eventually lead to lower levels of employment and a general economic downfall.
• According to the 11th EFA Global Monitoring Report 2013/14, Nigeria’s 10.5 million was easily the world’s largest population of out of school children.
• UNESCOs global illiterate statistics of 775million people put Nigeria at 6.45%.
• According to the Literacy index of the Nigerian census bureau and index muni, the total population of literates accounted for about 61.3% of the Nigerian economy which basically constituted 72.1% of the male and 50.4% of the female population. The other 38.7% of the country’s population were illiterates.
• Former Vice-President of the federation, Atiku Abubakar also stated in an interview? that 70% of northerners are illiterates.
• Emir of Kano Sanusi Lamido stated on the Nigerian Watch that 93% of children in northern Nigeria are denied education. He also stated that in Jigawa state, school completion rate amongst females is 7%, and 70% of the women between 20 and 29 can’t read compared to the 9.7% rate of the women of that age bracket in the South West.
The huge difference in demographic academic enrollment is quite alarming, implying that citizens of northern Nigeria constitute the majority of the country’s illiterate population. While the menace of illiteracy is obviously more concentrated in some parts of the country, no territory is absolutely spared and its effects are far reaching.
Statistics from the Nigerian voice puts enrollment rates as follows:
• South – East = 85%
• South – West = 85%
• South – South = 75%
• North – East = 20%
• North – West = 25%
Nigeria being the number one economy in Africa cannot continue to carry such a burden while countries with less economic resources like Cuba, Poland, Estonia, Barbados, and Slovenia have literacy rates of about 99.7% – 99.8%.
Literacy Integration and Formal Education Foundation is driven by and operates on the vision of absolutely eliminating the menace of illiteracy from the streets of Nigeria.