Illiteracy: Meaning, Causes, Consequences And Solution

Table Of Contents

1. Meaning Of Illiteracy
2. Causes Of Illiteracy
3. Consequences Of Illiteracy
4. Solution To The Problem Of Illiteracy

Meaning Of Illiteracy

Illeteracy is a condition of inability of a person or persons to read and write. It is a condition characterized by abject lack of knownledge of reading and writing skills. The individual cannot communicate in the generally accepted medium of expression of the society, usually, the English language in Nigeria. The individual lacks exposure to basic knowledge to adjust and fit in to society.

Causes Of Illiteracy

1. Traditional/ Religious Values:
Certain cultures and traditional practices whic are against the western form of education and socialization or the white man’s education and ways of life, encourage illiteracy. Such values include discrimination against women and girl child education, early marriage for young girls.

Also, such values encourage children to be subjected to agricultural engagement and petty trading instead of going to school. In the Islamic Northern section of the country, some male children are encouraged to undergo Koranic studies and to beg for alms as means of survival. These values and practices encourage illiteracy in the society.

2. Poverty: Poor homes do not send children to school. Such children are given out to wealthy individuals as house helps or are subjected to child labour and menial undertakings, like street trading and hawking, along high ways.

3. Poor Policy Implementation By Government: Government policies though are usually laudable, but their implementation is usually inconsistent and adhoe in nature. The policy of free and affordable education, though attractive to the citizens, have not be consistent and dependable. Government policies in education are usually temporary or short lived.

The Universal Primary Education(UPE), the 6334 system of Education and the current Universal Basic Education ( UBE) are genuine efforts to eradicate illiteracy. However, their implementation has always failed, due to poor and inefficient planning and manegement strategies. This does not encourage education. Moreever, most school leavers and graduates from higher institutions are jobless and unemployed. This discourages other citizens from going to school to acquire education.

4. Wrong Attitude To Education: Some communities do not believe in education. This is the case with traditional farming and agricultural producing areas. They deride the educated class as lazy persons who cannot till the land to produce food and provide family needs. Illiterate parents who are successful often feel that it is a waste of time to send children to school. Such parents therefore see no wisdom un embracing efforts by government to improve and provide education.

5. Poor and Inadequate Facilities: School Infrastructural facilities are poorly provided by government. In some communities, there are no sufficient class rooms, desks and chairs. Children learn in exposed and unconducive environments, under the sun and rain. Teachers’ welfare is not taken seriously by government. As a result teachers embark on frequent strike actions, which disrupt the school calendar and waste the time of pupils and students. These factors discourage education and compound the problem of illiteracy.

6. Lack of Access: Not all children have access to formal education. Besides poverty, other social conditions and occupational engagements of parents make it difficult for their children to have access to education. Children of nomads and fishermen who move from place to place are denied education. The attempts by government to provide Nomadic education and other special schools have not done much to improve the situation.

Thus is because learning and teaching require a measure of comfort for both the learner and the teacher. There are areas where the geographical terrain makes access to school almost impossible, example, the river-rine areas and the mountainous areas of the country.

Consequences Of Illiteracy

i. Ignorance: “Ignorance is a disease” so the saying goes. Ignorance limits one’s capacity in reasoning and thought. An ignorant individual cannot contribute meaningfully to a discussion aimed at providing solution to a problem. Education equips the individual with critical thinking and a mind set for constructive contribution of ideas to solve problems.

ii. Proneness To Manipulation: Illiteracy exposes an individual to manipulation and deceit by neighbours or associates. It is easier to rope an illiterate person into trouble. It is easier to cheat an illiterate people in a bargain because he may not appreciate the full implications of a matter.

Illiterate persons are easily used by the elite to cause or create crisis in the society. They can be instigated to take up arms and commit violent acts against the society. Much of the problems of the Boko Haram is caused by illiteracy and negative world view.

iii. Ethnic Manipulations: Illiteracy enhances ethnic manipulation especially by the educated class or the politicians who preach or raise ethnic feeling to secure votes. Illiterate persons fall prey to ethnic manipulation than the educated individuals.

iv. Impediment To Technological Development: Illiteracy prevents the development of skills and talents of individuals. This robs society the contributions of such individuals to technological and national development.

v. Abuse Of Right: One of the civic rights of the citizen is the right to education. Therefore to deny a person the right to education is an abuse of his right as a citizen.

Solutions To The Problem Of Illiteracy

1. Enabling Policy Environment: Good policies must be backed by a commitment and will to implement policies. Free education should be realistic, not a propaganda to win votes. Teacher’s salaries should be upgraded and promptly paid. In service training, seminars and workshops and other capacity building measures should be provided to enhance teachers professional efficiency. The UBE and its philosophy which is to eradicate illiteracy should be pursed with vigour and sincerity.

2. Provision Of Access And Facilities: Family empowerment is necessary so that poor parents can sponsor the education of their children. Government should provide school classroom building, desks, chairs and textbooks to enhance learning and teaching. Every child should have access and opportunity to formal education. The law on compulsory education should be enforced and offenders punished as a deterent.

3. Citizenship Education: Government and civil society organization should mount public campaigns to mobilize citizens and enlighten them on the importance of mass literacy. Such campaigns will discourage negative traditional and religious beliefs which encourages illiteracy.

Citizens should be made to see education as the key to success and national development.

4. Mobilization Of Citizens: This is a campaign to drive home the importance and need for all citizens no matter their age, sex and occupation opportunities should be made available.

5. Legislation: Appropriate legislation should be put in place, to ensure that children from a certain age must attend school at least for the basic education years. The Child Rights Act should be elected and domesticated by all states of the federation. The Child Rights Act among other things, makes it mandatory for a child to be educated.

6. Establishment Of Almajeri Model Schools: The Federal Government has made genuine and sincere efforts to address the problem of illiteracy among the Almajeri children, through the establishment of Almajeri model schools in the Northern states of the country.

This special education project is aimed at arresting the culture of begging for aims as a means of survival, among this class of children. The Almajeri model school system combines Western education with Koranic education. The objective is to remove the Almajeri children off the streets and give them balanced education. The Federal government is encouraged to provide more of such schools.

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