NMEC Board Chair Seeks State of Emergency in Education Sector

Dr (Mrs) Esther UduehiDr (Mrs) Esther Uduehi, chairman of the Board of Commission for Mass Literacy, Adult and Non-Formal Education (NMEC), has said that in order eradicate illiteracy by the year 2015, Federal Government must declare a state of emergency in the education sector.He stated position at the weekend in Abuja
her speech at the inaugural meeting of the board, Uduehi said that with various survey by EFA Global Monitoring and the Bureau of Statistics (NBS) placing Nigeria’s literacy population at 35 million and 40 million respectively, there was need for some drastic action redeem the sector.
She also expressed concern about the recent UNICEF survey which indicated that Nigeria, with an estimated population of 160 million people, has over 10.1 million out-of-school children, representing about 10 percent of the global total and the largest number in any single country.
According the former Presidential Liaison Officer (PLO) the House of Representatives (1999-2003) and educationist, “The picture painted here is that out of every five Nigerian children is out of school and except a drastic action is taken, these out-of-school children will come to join and swell the number of illiterate adults.
“Whatever the statistics or number, what is obvious is the fact that we need some drastic action to redeem this sector. With the call for eradication of illiteracy by the year 2015, there is need to declare a state of emergency in the sector. All hands must be on deck to salvage this situation.”
She stressed the need for governments at all levels to pay greater attention to the literacy programmes in their domains with a view to reducing drastically the present statistics.
According to her, “mass literacy and non-formal education is a complimentary delivery for development and deserves premium attention in our planning, budgeting and implementation if we are to fulfill the provision of our constitution that the government will strive to eradicate illiteracy,”
Lamenting the inadequacy of the various interventions to produce meaningful result, Uduehi called on Governments, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), private individuals and development partners to collaborate to bolster literacy programmes in the country.
She warned that the cashless policy, for instance, would not achieve full realization with such a number of illiterate adults and children, and urged the banks to get involved in the crusade.
Uduehi added: “Only the literate persons are able to effectively and with ease use the mobile phone; therefore, all the service providers should get involved.”
She called on the legislators at state and national levels to make literacy part of their constituency projects by taking pride in ensuring that literacy programmes are effectively on-going in their constituencies as well as financially and morally supported.
Uduehi also tasked the authorities of the 774 Local Government Areas in the country to impact positively on the education sector by supporting and supervising the literacy programmes in their areas, stressing “they should, for example, provide literacy centres in every big market in their areas; this is a challenge for us all and with the necessary political will and private interest, we shall overcome.”
She assured that the Board of NMEC would sustain the literacy campaign to effectively draw attention of all and sundry to the issue, even as she expressed optimism that “even if we cannot eradicate illiteracy by 2015, we can make a drastic reduction in the number of illiterate persons by drastic action or means.”

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