Sonny Echono, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, says nearly 60 million Nigerians are illiterates, assuring that literacy centres will reduce the high percentage of illiteracy in the country.
Mr Echono made this known on Thursday at the Federal Government College Otobi, during the inauguration of a pilot Literacy Centre for the North-central zone.
The permanent secretary expressed regret that the illiteracy rate among the youth and adults is high, saying that the literacy level at the lower cadre of the colleges is also alarming.
According to him, Literacy Centres to be established in 104 Federal Government Colleges (FGCs) are aimed at reducing the high rate of illiteracy at the low cadre of the staff of the institutions, stressing that the federal government designed the literacy programme to cater for them and others in the host communities.
He said literacy was both a social and human rights issue and called on the learners at the pilot centre to remain committed and take their studies with all seriousness.
According to him, the essence of the scheme is to fit into the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) especially SDG number four which highlights inclusive and equitable quality education and promotion of long learning opportunities.
He explained that the programme would equip its beneficiaries with literacy and numeracy skills to be able to handle challenges of life.
An officer from the office of the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari, on SDGs, Stephen Ojo, commended the foresight of the education ministry in designing the programme and promised to provide technical support to the ministry towards its success.
He emphasised that the scheme would help build capacities and skills of all the participants.
The principal of the school, Amudipe Gabriel, commended the permanent secretary for his doggedness in ensuring that the programme began in earnest and for making his school the centre in the zone.
The Coordinator of the programme, Abisode Olayiwola, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), said the response from learners in the school and host community far exceeded the instructional materials made available.
“We targeted 40 learners but what we had was twice that number. We are impressed by the turnout. We will make arrangements for all of them.”