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Education still a major learning curve

9 September 2021
Reading time: 4 minutes

Education should be the bedrock of development, but the 12-year insurgency in northeastern Nigeria has taken its toll on the schooling system.

Poor funding, inadequate school infrastructures and classrooms, the lack of teaching aids, such as projectors, computers, laboratories and libraries, and the paucity of quality teachers have had a severe effect on education.

And, as a result, there the number of illiterate people, both young and old, has escalated.

Dr Mustapha Ali, the executive secretary of the Agency For Mass Literacy in Maiduguri in Borno State, said the school was established solely to eradicate illiteracy among the youth and elderly adults across the state.

He said getting rid of illiteracy was an all-out fight but it was his goal and he wished more people would get an education.

“The Qur’an does not stipulate that you have to be a certain age to get an education. That means anyone of any age who wants to learn and gain knowledge should be given the chance to go to school.”

Ali said the government should be doing a lot more to address illiteracy.

Bulama Zanna Maja, a traditional ruler, told RNI reporter Nana Hadiza Mustapha that he had been a student at the Agency For Mass Literacy for the past four years and had been studying hard to catch up with contemporary society.

He said he had a hunger for knowledge and education had made a great difference to his life, helping him to achieve things he would never have been able to do had he not learnt the necessary skills.

He said the world was changing fast and people with little or no education would not be able to keep pace.

“I cannot understand people who have the means to get an education but who choose to remain ignorant. They are the great losers because they will miss out on what is most important in life.”

Maja said the knowledge he gained had had helped him to read and write. He could now read letters, books, newspapers and fill out documents and forms.

“I did not go to school just to get a certificate or to make money. Education helped me to become a better man; a man with a good character and a man who conducts himself in a better way.”

Hadiza Ibrahim, a resident of Maiduguri, said she had learnt a lot from her teachers and that schooling had changed her for the better.

Unfortunately, she had to leave school to get married. But now, she said, she had enrolled at the Agency For Mass Literacy because she wanted to further her education.

She said more women, regardless of their age, should enrol at the agency.

“Many girls do not go to school or they drop out to get married or to find work and they miss out on getting a proper education. But women should not be left behind. They should take the opportunity to get educated.”

ReliefWeb, the humanitarian information service provided by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said in a report published in May that the impact of the insurgency had left generations of children without opportunities to learn, leaving them even more vulnerable.

It said that since the conflict erupted in 2009, 611 teachers had been killed, 19,000 teachers displaced, 910 schools damaged or destroyed, and more than 1,500 schools forced to close.

As a result, an estimated 900,000 children had lost access to learning.

The report said 75% of children in internally displaced persons’ camps did not attend school and 70% of girls of primary school age were out of school in Borno State. Of those who did attend, 72% were unable to read on completion of primary school.

It said Borno State had the lowest literacy rates at only 35% of female and 46% of male adolescents.

About the author

Elvis Mugisha