To commemorate International Literacy Day 2020 on the 8th of September, education and media experts called for an urgent need to revamp the Nigerian educational sector, acknowledging the vital role of leveraging technology in the entire process.
This was revealed at a two-day event organised to commemorate the ILD 2020, by ‘Develop Africa Now Initiative (DANI),’ in partnership with ‘People’s Check’ and ‘Girls Go Techy.’ The event was supported by the World Literacy Foundation and Peace First.
The event, moderated by Climate Tracker Fellow, Daniel Whyte, and Chiamaka Okafor, a journalist, featured panellists like Chido Onumah, Coordinator of AFRICMIL, Olanrewaju Oyedeji, Editor-in-Chief of TechMirror Magazine, Shreyaa Venkat, Founder of NEST4US USA, Lady Ejiro Umukoro, an investigative journalist; Busola Ajibola, Coordinator of Campus Reporter (Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism) and Oriyomi Ogunwale, Team Lead for EduPlana.
Mrs Ajibola, assessing how the government can address the challenges in tertiary institutions especially during COVID-19 forceful closure, lamented over the absence of a digital learning platform. She bemoaned the inability of some students to afford smartphones and laptops, noting that a large population of the academic populace would have been excluded.
One of the panellists, Miss Umukoro said: “The major reason for gender-based violence is illiteracy,” while she was explaining the role of literacy in creating a gender-balanced society.
She noted that there are two types of dysfunction of literacy; illiteracy and aliteracy.
“The children have to know their voices matter, and this education should happen at home,” she explained, while she disclosed that aliteracy is a barrier – a situation where people who can read do not like to read. She revealed that due to illiteracy, many parents in Nigeria have not heard of the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) (VAPP) act or know how to get justice for a molested child.
She explained that the lack of civil intelligence makes many citizens ignorant of their rights.
Mr Oriyomi urged the federal government to prioritise education and perhaps declare a state of emergency on the educational sector. He asserted that when Nigeria gets education right it can reduce unemployment, insecurity, poverty and more. He emphasised on the importance of funding in the grand scheme of things, noting that without funding, all the policies made would be futile.
Dr Chido also urged stakeholders to redouble their investment in education, saying: “On this International Literacy Day, I invite all those involved in education to redouble their investment and mobilize their resources to unleash the potential of each individual in the services of a shared world.”
He went ahead to note that for the African continent to compete, we have to reinvent and refocus our education policies and system in such a way that they are on par with global best practices.
On what stakeholders can do to make things better, Miss Shreyaa encouraged nonprofits, the government and institutions to come together and provide quality education to children.
Dr Chido and Miss Shreyaa agreed that literacy goes beyond the fundamental read and write policy. It extends to comprehension and the ability to put one’s thought process together.
Reacting to the relationship between literacy and employment, Dr Chido expressed his dissatisfaction, saying: “Not being comprehensible is unforgivable. This is what is found in most places of work.”
“As a graduate, in your workplace, you only talk in business terms. You do not understand creativity, negotiation skills etc. I do not see such graduates surviving in the organisation. We need to draw a line between literacy and literacy skills.“
The panellists urged the government to rethink the current education curriculum, develop customised content at different levels, digitise learning and invest in capacity building.
They also added that teaching should not be relegated to attract subpar human resources, churned out by 3rd-grade tertiary institutions, acknowledging that this is the resultant effect of the fact that most competent young people go to universities, below this set are people who get into polytechnics while the ones with the least competence get admitted into colleges of education.
The panel concluded by stating that mentorship, internships and attempts to bridge the gap between theories and practicals should be employed. Undergraduates were encouraged to learn digital skills to thrive in the future of work.
By Sultan Quadri and Balogun Mukhtar
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