By Adesina Wahab
Government has been urged to treat the issue of literacy as a fundamental human right that every citizen should be entitled to for the country to achieve her potential and take it rightful place in the comity of nations.
This was the opinion of experts who spoke at the opening ceremony of the 18th biennial conference cum 40th anniversary of the Literacy Promotion Association of Nigeria, LIPAN, formerly known as the Reading Association of Nigeria, RAN.
The event, which took place at the Lagos State University, LASU, Ojo, had the theme “Critical thinking for sustainable living.”
The outgoing President of LIPAN, Prof. Graceful Ofodu, said without being literate, it might be difficult for somebody to do critical thinking that could help solve today’s challenges.
She noted that the association initiated a two-year strategic plan to boost literacy in tbe country and help free the citizens from the shackles of learning and literacy poverty.
“In line with that plan, we have set up a Reading Centre in Opobo, Rivers State, donated books and reading materials to schools in various parts of the country. We also align ourselves with international organisations such as UNICEF, UNESCO and others and celebrate international days.
” Our aim is to promote literacy in Nigeria because we know it is vital to social development. Quality of life is improved with literacy, ” she said.
The Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Prof. Emejulu Obiajulu, said RAN was changed to LIPAN in accordance with international practices and in line with what other similar international organisations have become.
The Vice Chancellor, LASU, Prof. Ibiyemi Olatunji-Bello, in her message to the participants, emphasized the need for doubling efforts to reduce illiteracy in the country.
According to her, education is pivotal to national growth and development.
In his paper, the Executive Secretary, Universal Basic Education Commission, UBEC, Dr Hamid Bobboyi, noted that if literacy at basic education level is faulty, it would affect education at higher levels negatively.
He said the commission would soon build 37 smart schools across the country in line with the role information and communication technology is now playing in teaching and learning .
Bobboyi added that 109 ICT centres have been established by the agency in all the senatorial districts of the federation.