By Favour Nnabugwu
The Federal Government has charged E-9 countries to consolidate on the gains of membership and ensure that member nations, individually and collectively, prioritize literacy in order to meet the 2015 Education for All (EFA) target.
E-9 countries are the nine most highly-populated countries with more than 60 per cent of the world’s population, over two-thirds of the world’s illiterate adults and over half of the world’s out-of-school children. They are Nigeria, Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Mexico and Pakistan.
Minister of Education, Professor Ruqayyatu Ahmed Rufa’I, while handing over the Chairmanship of the E-9 countries to India’s Minister of State for Human Resources Development, Dr. Shashi Tharoor, at the 9th session in India, last week, tasked E-9 nations on the need to build on the modest gains of the association.
She further tasked the countries to prioritise literacy to ensure that il remains atop the nations’ collective agenda.
Launched in 1993, the E-9 Initiative has the objective of providing a forum for discussion of experiences in education, exchanging of best practices and monitoring of progress.
E-9 Ministers of Education also meet regularly to review their achievements and experiences in education, particularly EFA, and to debate selected themes of mutual interest.
Rufa’I, on assumption of office as the E-9 Chairperson in 2010, adopted the Abuja Framework for Action and Co-operation for the desired impact in the revitalisation of adult and youth literacy and placed literacy on the front burner of policy and decision making.
Under the leadership of Prof. Rufa’I, Nigeria attended and hosted high level group meetings of the E-9 nations, provided permanent delegates to UNESCO’s E-9 countries meeting, and meetings of E-9 Ministers in India and Paris, where member nations shared ideas and reviewed progress made so far.
Other areas which the E-9 initiative helped Nigeria realise its objective on literacy control are in the promotion and use of minority languages for literacy along with the primers developed in the three major languages of Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba.
There is also an increase in advocacy among the states and the National Assembly through the introduction of Literacy Ambassadors programme which would play an effective role in the promotion of literacy, especially among the disadvantaged groups in Nigeria.
The launch of the Access and Mass Literacy Campaign across the country increased the participation of more stakeholders, especially the private sectors’ interest and commitment to mass literacy and illiteracy reduction in the country.
While handing over to Dr. Shashi Tharoor, Minister of State for Human Resources Development, India, Rufa’I stated that Nigeria had raised the profile of E-9 since she took over from Indonesia.
She called on member nations to work towards sustaining the momentum through more focused activities and the country level and collaboration beyond national frontiers.
Assured E-9 countries that Nigeria would continue to provide the necessary support and assistance whenever called upon, she called on member nations to extend the same measure of support to India just as they did to Nigeria.