Mr Jibrin Paiko, the Executive Secretary National Commission for Mass Literacy Education, Adult and Non-Formal Education, says lack of political will is the major reason for high level of illiteracy in Nigeria.

Paiko said this on Tuesday in Abuja at the roundtable discussion organised by a non-governmental organization, Noble Mission for Change Initiative, in commemoration of the International Literacy Day.

“Lack of political will particularly, at the state and local government levels, is the major contributing factor to the high level of illiteracy in Nigeria.

“At the national level, we have a lot of policy documents in place, and most of them were developed with the support of development partners and distributed to the states.

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“The issue is, we need political support and will at state level to key in but we need the government to key in.’’

Paiko said that only 101 million Nigerians were literate, adding that Nigeria had all the necessary structure to boost the level of literacy in the country.

He added that the mandate of the commission was to create the enabling environment while the government would implement.

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Paiko solicited the collaboration and funding support of states and local governments to develop education in Nigeria.

In her remarks, Mrs Nemi Okujagu, the Technical Adviser to the Statistician-General of the Federation, National Bureau of Statistics, said poverty was another cause of illiteracy.

Okujagu said a recent literacy survey in Nigeria showed that 90 per cent of the country’s citizens were poor, adding that two-thirds of global illiterate population were women.

She defined literacy as the ability to read and write in any language, adding that the survey was done by random collection of data from households across the country.

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In his presentation, Dr Saidou Jallow, Senior Programme Specialist, UNESCO, advised governments to recruit and provide adequate remuneration to literate teachers to boost literacy level in the country.

Jallow said that government at all levels should also facilitate the establishment and operationalisation of ambassadors for adult literacy and non-formal education.

He noted that the bulk of illiterate Nigerians were domiciled in the northern part of the country and urged stakeholders to channel their efforts and resources to the area.