By Okeoghene Akubuike
Prof. Michael Omolewa, former Permanent Delegate and Ambassador of Nigeria to UNESCO, has commended the federal government for its drive in ensuring literacy and skills development in the country.
Omolewa gave the commendation in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the sideline of the 2018 International Literacy Day holding in Kano.
He said that the Ministerial Strategic Plan of the Ministry of Education showed the government’s commitment in achieving its goal of addressing the issues.
He said that the goals included: eradicating illiteracy and boosting the non-formal education sector.
The expert said that the National Commission for Mass Literacy, Adult and Non-Formal Education has been functional since inception.
He stressed that the commission had been developing strategies and rallying key stakeholders to achieve the target set in the strategic plan.
Omolewa noted that in 1982 and 1990 Kano state received the UNESCO special mention in International Literacy Prize for its outstanding achievement in literacy delivery.
He added that the Nigerian Prison Service was also awarded the 2018 UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy in Paris.
He added that the award was in recognition of the prison’s progammes in literacy, Inmates General Education and the National Open University of Nigeria Prisons Study Centres.
The scholar, however, said more action was needed for effective performances in the 21st century and beyond.
“We have taken note of the progress made so far, but also note that much more is expected, as literacy is made available to every Nigerian and skill acquisition is built into every literacy programme.
“This will involve making available appropriate literacy materials, training and retraining of personnel and participants and equipment required for skills acquisition.
“Education must be adequately funded and government must provide and spend money on the education sector, as a panacea for sustainable development, peace and wealth stimulation.
“For every individual will be given the opportunity to develop the innate potential for creativity, making independent judgment, and searching for means of livelihood.
“We must also invest in research, to discover new techniques for learning, measuring learning outcomes, and monitoring learners, and techniques of achieving higher rates of retention of learners.
“The indigenous language should also be used for learning literacy,” he said.
He added that partnership building and international cooperation must be secured, as well as actively pursuing international collaboration for the purpose of eliminating illiteracy in the country.
Omolewa said all stakeholders including the media, political parties, parents and students musts be committed to the realisation of this goal.
He said that the use of modern technology must be applied at every stage of learning, monitoring and evaluation.
“Each learner must be encouraged to learn to think independently and examine the potentials and limitations of literacy.
“Thus literacy must not just be about reading the word but must also include learning how to read the world, the events and circumstances which determine growth,’’ he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Omolewa is a retired professor of Adult Education at the University of Ibadan and has served as the 32nd president of the General Conference of UNESCO.