Three out of every four pupils in Nigerian primary schools are poor in literacy and numeracy, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF assessment.
The global agency’s Chief of Education in Nigeria, Saadhna Panday-Soobrayan, said this on Wednesday at the Foundational Literacy and Numeracy seminar in Maiduguri, Borno State.
“Nigeria has a severe learning crisis with three out of four children being unable to read or to solve a simple math problem,” Panday-Soobrayan said at the opening of the seminar, which drew participants from stakeholders in the education sector from Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states.
“This not only hobbles children’s opportunity to learn higher order skills but it’s also fuelling the out-of-school (children) problem through high levels of drop out. So if we want to solve the out-of-school (children) problem, we must solve the quality problem in learning,” she said.
Panday-Soobrayan advised that the problem must be tackled from the grass-roots level.
“The time is now to begin scaling it across all LGAs,” she said.
Also, the UNICEF has said poor quality education is pushing 4 million Nigerian children between Primary 1 & JSS3 to drop out annually.
The UNICEF’s Chief of Field Office in North-East Nigeria, Phuong T. Nguyen, disclosed this at the Foundational Literacy and Numeracy seminar in Maiduguri on Wednesday, saying that “one-third of teachers in the North-East are not qualified to teach”.
She noted that currently, there are 1.6 million children out-of-schools in the North-East, while 70 per cent of Nigerian children cannot read with meaning or solve simple math problems.
According to her, UNICEF has now trained over 1,200 teachers to make sure they are qualified to teach in various schools in Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe states.
“We have done enough assessments to realise that from baseline to the midline, we have really increased over 55 per cent of children are able to read and write in addition to solving simple mathematics problems, with that in mind, we are ready to scale up”.
“We want to use all opportunities working with the state ministry of education, with national and local NGOs, with communities to scale up more widely, we have the materials and we are able to share that widely with any government, with any community, with any NGO to scale up across the border”.