Literacy for Community-Based SocioEconomic Transformation and Development
IN NIGERIA: SOME CRITICAL CHALLENGES AND THE ROLE OF THE INTERNATIONAL READING ASSOCIATION
DR SALIHU GIREI BAKARI
ADAMAWA STATE UNIVERSAL BASIC EDUCATION BOARD
ADAMAWA STATE, NIGERIA
BEING A PLENARY ADDRESS DELIVERED AT THE 6th PAN AFRICAN READING FOR ALL CONFERENCE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF DAR ES SALAAM, TANZANIA, AUGUST 10TH - 14, 2009
Literacy especially reading is one activity that is unique, which cuts across all spectrums of academic endeavours. In addition to providing the most significant process for appreciating the relationship between spoken and written languages, reading competence is a basic requirement for success in all intellectual tasks. Difficulty in reading thus creates a first line barrier to understanding the content of learning especially in the school context. Various tests including a national assessment of learning achievement have however revealed that the average Nigerian school child is of below average capacity in the execution of literacy tasks. The problem with these tests of achievement is that they tend, in most cases, to show the child as the issue in the low literacy performance, whereas evidence exists to suggest that the quality of the teacher and the teaching strategies employed may also be below average. The popular computer dictum – garbage in garbage out – holds here. The focus of this paper is to analyse the situation of literacy and literacy teaching in Africa with particular reference to Nigeria and at the end, locate the disconnect between various literacy programmes of government and literacy achievement of children and adults. To this end, performance tests administered on sample basic education school teachers are analysed. The analysis has shown various degrees of incompetence in reading tasks exhibited by the teachers and inadequacies in the strategies they employ in teaching reading to learners. The school environment is also mostly reading unfriendly. An integrated pre-reading programme that will emphasise exposure of the child to carefully structured reading exercises immediately she/he is fully adjusted to the challenges of school life is canvassed in the capacity building intervention designed for the teachers. For adult literacy education, the conception and context have to shift from literacy as set of mechanical skills of reading, writing and mathematics to a social literacy approach that seeks to address literacy as relevant to the day - to - day existence of the adults.
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