By Ogalah Ibrahim.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says no fewer than 70 per cent of Nigerian children are suffering from learning poverty.
The World Bank defined learning poverty as the inability of a 10-year-old to read or understand a simple sentence or solve basic numeracy problem.
According to UNICEF, “research has shown that schooling does not always result in learning. Many children, even if in school, are not learning fundamental skills required for proficiency. As a result, many children are experiencing learning poverty, with an estimated 70 per cent of Nigerian children falling under this category, varying from state to state.
“Even before COVID-19, the world was grappling with a learning crisis with half of all ten-year-olds in middle and low-income countries unable to read or comprehend a simple story. In sub-Saharan Africa this is nearly 9 in every 10 children.”
Hence, the import of the ongoing launch of the Nigeria Learning Passport in states across the country.
Usamatu Mohammad Gona, the Katsina State Coordinator of the programme during the launch in Katsina said, “the Nigeria Learning Passport is an electronic distance learning medium fortified with audio-visual materials and books to aid self-based learning has been launched in Katsina State to help fast track learning among pupils and students of primary and junior secondary schools across the state.
“The platform makes learning possible even outside the confines of a school which will help address the spiralling number of out-of-school children, especially in states where insecurity hinders access to schools.”
Gona explained that “the NLP education model offers foundational literacy and numeracy skills, sciences, digital and employability skills. The Learning Passport supports early childhood education, primary and secondary education, and provides adolescent skills, technical & vocational education that is tailored to the needs of children and youth who are either out of school, or in need of support to ensure the education they are receiving is of sufficient quality.”
According to Gona, the NLP has the potential to provide access to learning to every Nigerian child within or outside the four walls of a classroom.
Gona who noted that the NLP platform is geared towards ensuring that no Nigerian child misses out of education said “education isn’t just a fundamental right but the fulcrum around which the engine of development revolves; it is the engine of the progress of any society.
“We plan to reach every Nigerian child over time with the NLP but in the short-term, out target is to reach 4.5 million learners by 2023 and 12 million by 2025.
“Additionally, 30,500 teachers and school leaders are being trained on the use of the NLP and on how to integrate technology in classroom instructional practice.
Narrowing it down to Katsina, the NLP Coordinator in the state said: “In Katsina, we are targeting 10,000 learners and teachers across the over 300 schools in the state before the end of November 2023.”
The Learning Passport is delivered by UNICEF and the Federal Ministry of Education and powered by Microsoft, with funding support from Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and is free of charge for all learners.