About half of the Nigerian population cannot read, according to the minister of state for education on Tuesday in Abuja. Out of these, about 60 per cent are women.
While briefing the press on yesterday’s celebration of International Literacy Day, Kenneth Gbagi attributed this situation to the education sector’s inadequate infrastructure, weak governance and lack of funding.
“Statistics reveal the peculiar nature of illiteracy in Nigeria, which is about 47 per cent of the entire 150 million population,” he said.
He said that attacking illiteracy and poverty has become not only a national, but an international concern. He also called for the reshaping of the informal and formal educational systems, for national development.
Women more affected
This year’s internal literacy day focused on women’s literacy. Irina Bokova, director general of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), said that two out of every three of the world’s 796 million illiterate adults were women. Mr Bokova, who was represented by UNESCO country director, Nigeria, Joseph Ngu, said this reflects one of the most persistent injustices of our time.
“There is no justification, be it cultural, economic or social, for denying girls and women an education,” he said. “It is a basic right and an absolute condition for reaching all internationally agreed development goals.” Mr Bokova said illiteracy keeps women marginalized and constitutes one of the leading obstacles to reducing extreme poverty. He also said that investing in women’s literacy carries very high returns, as it improves livelihoods, leads to better child and maternal health, and favours girls’ access to education.