ABUJA – The Managing Director of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Mr Ima Niboro, said on Friday that the agency would work closely with UNESCO to promote literacy in Northern Nigeria.
Niboro stated this when the Regional Representative of UNESCO, Prof Hassana Alidon, and the Executive Secretary, National Mass Education Commission, Mr Jibrin Paiko, paid him a courtesy visit in Abuja.
He said it was important to give priority to the educational needs of children in the country in view of the increasing number of Nigerian children that were out of school. “The issue of education, especially school enrolment is a very serious one in this country.
“Nigeria in the world, has the highest number of children out of school; Nigerian has 10 million children out of school.
“The next to Nigeria is Pakistan, which has five million children; so we are actually 100 per cent higher than Pakistan.
“The challenge of education that we face is in the North; the highest dropout rate you find in the South is less than five per cent, but in the North of Nigeria, we have percentages up to 70.
“It is a major challenge for this country and for this government.
“It is Zamfara, Bauchi, and Borno; those are the places that need this money, because the statistics are from there,“ he said.
He said that the funds to be provided by donor agencies for championing and promoting mass literacy in the country should be applied in the Northern states of the country.
The managing director said it was necessary for UNESCO and other relevant bodies to develop feasible educational programmes that would improve the literacy level of the Nigerian child.
“UNESCO and other bodies should create a campaign targeting some of these states, so that agencies like NAN can push it very vigorously.[eap_ad_1] “So that all stakeholders will be aware of what the situation is, what the problem is and what the solutions are because this is our country.
“We don’t have any other country; the children of Zamfara are the children of Nigeria, same for children of Lagos, Rivers, Borno. They are all children of Nigeria.
“If we have to go out of our way to push for education for them, to push that this situation must change, that we cannot have this situation, that a country like Nigeria should not have 10 million children out of school.
“If we need to build a campaign for them, NAN will be at the forefront of the campaign,“ he said.
He called on all stakeholders to support efforts at promoting mass literacy, saying that the right people should be positioned to drive the programme.
Earlier, in her opening remark, Alidon, said that UNESCO had been in the forefront of promoting the culture of peace in Nigeria through its educational programmes.
She said that UNESCO had provided funds to support the development of mass literacy for adults and children in Nigeria.
“For us as UNESCO, we have five competencies; we have education, culture, communication, information and also sciences.
“What we try to do in all these competencies, really, is to use them as an avenue to promote the culture of peace through our educational programme.
“We have one of the largest projects funded by the presidency through its debt relief fund and Millennium Development Goals; the presidency has allocated 6.4 million U.S. dollars to revitalise literacy in Nigeria.
“Because, you can tell that a nation which is number one is Africa cannot afford to have a large population of more than 30 million people being illiterate.
“And so it is very important that the populace become literate as Nigeria becomes the number one economy in Africa,“ she said.
Alidon said that UNESCO would help consolidate Nigeria’s growth through its literacy programme especially for women and the girl-child.
She said that the role of the media as an agent of positive change could not be overemphasized.
The regional representative of UNESCO said that the global body would work with NAN to mobilise Nigerians for the various literacy programmes it was working on.
She said: “So, in that respect, there are so many activities that we are doing in order to mobilise more people to go into literacy programmes.