One critical area where the Federal Government is making slow but deliberate gains of recent is in developing the Non-Formal Education, NFE sub-sector to ensure that millions of Nigerians from all walks of life have access to sound functional education.
The increased focus on non formal education by the government stems from the fact that Nigerians can only contribute to the development process when they are educated enough to appreciate the efforts of government and its direction to better their condition of living.
Previously, the attention paid to non formal education across the country has been below expectation. The situation has improved encouragingly as the president who has a background in education has stressed the importance of ensuring that the less privileged in our communities, rural and urban areas have access to functional education through the non-formal education format.
The charge of the president in this regard is being implemented by the minister of state for education, Barr. Ezenwo Nyesom Wike. The minister insisted that positive results must be achieved from the federal, through to the states down to the local councils to reach out to Nigerians who are unable to access formal education through existing school system.
At present, Nigeria has over 60million illiterates. These are people without the basic literacy skills to contribute their quota meaningfully to national development. Available statistics indicate that 47percent of the nation’s adult population remains illiterate, while 22 million children are out of school with majority of them being women.
Already, the NMEC and other technocrats in the Federal Ministry of Education have started the concerted implementation of the presidential commitment to eradicate illiteracy in the country. In the last eight months, the federal government has deliberately targeted those marginalized, deprived and excluded from the formal education system for access to basic education to improve their literacy skills.
The NMEC and ministry officials have ensured that a critical percentage of the less privileged in urban slums and rural communities progressively come under tutelage through non formal education.
The unwavering commitment of the Federal Government to the realization of mass literacy for all Nigerians, irrespective of the circumstance of their birth is underscored by the release of N1billion self-benefitting fund to UNESCO, one of its development partners in this regard, to help drive the process of eradicating illiteracy in the country.
The girl-child most affected by the scourge of illiteracy in the country has received the attention of the federal government in the last eight months. After the success of the pilot schemes targeted at women and children in selected states to improve their literacy level, the Federal Ministry of Education is partnering with development partners and state governments to scale up the coverage of these gender-specific programmes.
Indeed, modern day realities which have expanded literacy beyond reading and writing has led to the review of the scope of mass literacy programmes by the Federal Ministry of Education to meet the new policy objective and development challenges of producing educated men and women with appropriate skills and competences for job creation and self-employment.
One key initiative by NMEC is the establishment of National Literacy Centres across the country. At present, the Centre in Minna is nearing completion. The National Literacy Centres are meant to serve as models for states to join in tackling the illiteracy challenge in the country.
Aside functional literacy and numeracy skills, the National Literacy Centres would help in the development of vocational skills for the illiterate population. This project is expected to effectively kick off before the end of the year.
All the developing countries that have attained milestones in the world today did so through mass literacy. If the population participate in development programmes, it is usually easy for the government to attain set goals.
That is the focus of the president through the Federal Ministry of Education. The government is committed to educationally empowering the people through mass literacy programmes for them to become participants in the development process.
Like every other programme in the education sector, the mass literacy effort of the federal government is not a quick-fix affair. It’s a long term programme which has earned the commitment and dedication of government officials at the highest level.
Results are trickling in for now and by 2015, the results would have been manifest for all to see.
Nwakaudu is the SA (Media) to the minister of state for education