7,500 girls were jubilant as they received their awards for having completed their Basic Literacy programme under a UNESCO-Always project, at a ceremony held in Abuja.
The event on Friday 5 May saw the first students graduate from a programme to empower women and girls in Nigeria. In all, 60,000 learners are set to benefit from this first phase of the programme. UNESCO has partnered with Proctor & Gamble, the producer of Always, on the Revitalizing Adults and Youth Literacy (RAYL) project in Nigeria which uses e-Learning through mobile phones and laptop computers.
‘’Before I used to feel ashamed when I went out with my friends because some of them are graduates but now I can also read, write and talk well with my friends,” said Helen Ukubi, one of the graduates. The incorporation of ICT training was also appreciated by Asabe Ishaya, another graduate, ‘’Now, I can read and write on my own and even send and receive text messages.’’
Launched in March 2014 for five years, the project aims to accelerate national efforts to bring education to children and adults. During the several phases of the project, it will especially target a total of 110,000 illiterate girls and women to acquire basic literacy, numeracy and life and vocational skills in Rivers State, the Federal Capital Territory and Bauchi State. The methodology is to reach girls through non-formal education, outside the mainstream school system, as well as strenghening the capacity of girls who are having difficulties in some subject areas so as to avoid the risk that they drop out of school. As part of the project, 200 Universal Basic Education teachers received training and 30 media personnel were trained on the production of e-lessons for delivery by radio, television and mobile phone applications.
Highest number of out-of-school children
According to the UNESCO Global EFA Monitoring Report 2015, Nigeria has 10.5 million out-of-school children - the highest number in the world. 60 per cent, of them live in the northern part of the country and of this figure over 71 per cent are girls and women.
UNESCO Regional Director, Mr. Benoit Sossou, thanked Procter & Gamble for giving back to the society especially to their first line customers, women and girls through its collaboration. “Together we can eventually wipe out illiteracy in Nigeria and other parts of the world if we continue to invest in education, especially for women and girls”, he said. This project builds on a 2012 UNESCO literacy project for girls and women in Senegal whose innovative teaching methods and approaches have inspired programmes in other countries struggling with high illiteracy rates.