Nobel laureate and iconic Nigerian Playwright, Professor Wole Soyinka on Thursday lamented low level of literacy in the country, saying the effects are currently having negative impact on younger generation in the country.
Soyinka who stated this in his speech at the finals of the Lafarge Africa National Literacy Competition (LANLC) held in Lagos said the nation must double her effort to ensure that literacy is not relegated.
He said the teachers must ensure that students are not corrupted with what they read in media, saying, “I am afraid of the level of literacy in this nation. There are errors in the use of Language and tenses both in English and local languages.’’
He therefore urged organisations to organise programmes that would help to raise literacy level in the country.
Soyinka at the competition where Lagos State defeated six other states to win the grand price of Lafarge Africa National Literacy Competition lamented hours spent in traffic in the country.
The writer said he was rejuvenated by the pupils present at the competition especially the ones from the northern States.
In his address, the Minister for State, Education, Prof. Tony Gozie Anwukah said literacy improves the future of everyone in society, adding that it is critical to economic development as well as individual and community well-being.
He commended Lafarge Africa for taking literacy to the grassroots and also giving children from the rural areas the opportunity to compete with their colleagues and age mates from the urban areas; thereby sharpening their skills and improving their self -confidence, which is essential to their development and future prospects.
“It is note-worthy that the competition has run for five years across Nigeria with a wider impact and reach every year, working with the SUBEBs, UBEC and Federal Ministry of Education at State and senatorial district levels across Nigeria.’’
The Minister for State Education stressed that federal government is making several efforts to improve literacy across board in the country, saying some of such initiatives include development of school facilities across the country and the national home grown school feeding programme.
He said, “Through these programmes, the government has been able to play its role in increasing school enrolment and completion as the dropout rate of primary school students is about 30 per cent and has been known to be a major root of illiteracy.”
The Spelling Bee competition was keenly contested by pupils from Rivers, Nassarawa, Kano, Gombe, Ebonyi, Lagos and Rivers States.
Lawal Kehinde, a nine year old boy from St Augustine’s Primary School Somolu and Idowu Ayomikun, 11 year old girl from Dairy Farm Primary School, Lagos made the state proud and performed excellently in the competition to clinch the prizes.
The winners of the competition were awarded educational grants to support their primary and secondary education in line with both organisation’s commitment to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 – improve access to quality public primary education.
At the competition, Kano took sixth, followed by Rivers fifth position, Nassarawa fourth, Gombe with third position while Ebonyi came second.