Adamu Adamu, Minister of Education on Wednesday in Kano said that Nigeria has about 60 million illiterate youths and adults.
Mr Adamu, who was represented by Mr Prinzo James, Deputy Director, Basic and Secondary Education, Ministry of Education, said this at the 2018 International Literacy Day Celebration.
He said out of this figure, females accounted for nearly 60 per cent of the population, while a total of 11 million children were out of school.
According to him, the increasing low level of literacy skills achieved by the millions of learners who completed some formal school education, made the situation more complicated.
Mr Adamu said the present state of affairs called for urgent attention as the country strives to ensure the attainment of SDGs by 2030.
“With these unwholesome statistics in our hands, it becomes evident that concerted efforts are required in order to accelerate the processes for combating illiteracy among children, youths and adults.
“Therefore, every effort aimed at bringing together multiple stakeholders should be committed to advancing literacy and lifelong learning, will receive support of the ministry of education.
“The Ministerial Strategic Plan for education sector has considered the importance of youth and adult literacy and gave the sector a prime position in the document.
“I would like to assure you that preparations are underway by the Federal Government to launch a National Mass Literacy Campaign with a view to addressing the high rate of youth and adult illiteracy in the country,” he said.
The minister said that the theme of the 2018 Literacy Day “Literacy and Skills Development” was apt, as the global trend was on skill development for youths and adults.
He said literacy must be taken beyond the cognitive domain to the critical level that imbues the citizen with thinking skills and functional literacy.
The UNESCO Representative, Stephen Onyekwelu, said UNESCO was impressed with the passion the Kano state government has shown in the area of literacy and Non-Formal Education.
Mr Onyekwelu said the new International skills acquisition centre which has 22 different skills, was a practical example of literacy and skills acquisition.
He urged various states to take a cue from what the Kano state government did in the area of skills development.
Mr Onyekwelu said the challenge of literacy was not only in Nigeria but a global problem.
He, however, said the challenge was with the new wave of technology and how the old people would be taught the 21st century demands of technological innovation.
He called for stakeholders support in the fight against illiteracy, saying it was not just the responsibility of the government.
Garba Abari, Director-General, National Orientation Agency, NOA, said literacy could do much more in Nigeria than any other message anyone could preach.
Represented by Metto Edekobi, Director State Operations, he said that “to counter insurgency, literacy must strive and ignorance must die.”
Mr Abari said the staff of the NOA were available to support NMEC in all their programmes, and that the agency would partner NMEC to increase the level of literacy.
He advocated for the introduction of civic education in literacy centres, calling on everyone to support the government and NMEC by educating the illiterates in their various communities.
NAN reports that the International Literacy Day is celebrated on Sept. 8 every year as declared by UNESCO.
This year marks the 52nd anniversary of Literacy Day.