The National Commission for Mass Literacy, Adult and Non-Formal Education says 38 per cent of Nigerians are not literate.
Its Executive Secretary, Prof. Abba Haladu, who disclosed this in an interview with newsmen in Kano on Friday, described the development as a big challenge.
Mr Haladu, however, said that the commission was working assiduously to ensure literacy among citizens lacking it.
“The available statistics with us shows that 62 per cent of Nigerians are literate and 38 per cent are non-literate.
“The out of school children are 11 million, while the non-literate Nigerians, that is the youth and adults are about 60 million, so put together, we have about 70 million citizens of Nigeria who cannot read and write or who lack basic skills for modern living .
“So that is a big challenge for any nation, and that is why we are trying to sensitise and mobilise all stakeholders, including government at all levels, federal, state and local, Non-Government Organisations and international development partners.
“So that together we should do the needful to ensure literacy is provided to this large number of Nigerian citizens.
“So we can have even development and ensure our people are well-equipped and empowered to face the challenge of becoming the third most populous country in the world in the next 32 years.’’
The key to literacy is reading development, a progression of skills that begins with the ability to understand spoken words and decode written words, and culminates in the deep understanding of text.
He said that adequate resources would be required to provide literacy to the large number of non-literate citizens.
“Well this requires a lot of things in terms of planning, budgeting – that is, allocating the necessary resources, in terms of mobilisation and implementation of tangible programmes, that will lead to educating the people or making them literate and also ensuring they acquire the necessary skills.
“The programmes include for instance, basic literacy, where people learn to read and write equivalent to primary three, then post literacy were people continue and learn to the level equivalent to primary education and there after continue in education programmes for completion of post literacy.
“All those that starting schooling and left because of one reason or the other and then the acquisition of vocational skills, entrepreneurial skills and off course life-long learning in general.
“So there are various programmes targeting youth, adults and out of school children, which are being implemented by state agencies for mass education, National Commission for Mass Literacy, National Commission For Nomadic Education and indeed other partners.
“What we are saying is that there is need for the resources to continue to implement these programmes so that the reach out will be wide enough to cover everybody.’’