Child Literacy: Stakeholders Call For Holistic Approach

In the realm of education, stakeholders emphasize the necessity for unified efforts to confront the fundamental challenges within the sector.

The Executive Director and founder of Teach the Child Initiative, Pearl Utuk espoused this sentiment at the 2024 education summit held in Abuja, Nigeria. Under the theme “Bridging learning gaps: Rethink, Relearn & Reform.”

Utuk underscored the pivotal role of literacy and digital skills in nurturing self-sufficiency among children for their future adulthood.

Utuk noted that literacy skills give access to opportunities that increase economic power and eventually break the poverty circle.

There should not be any distinction between a child that attends public school and the one that attends private school.”

She disclosed that the Teach the Child Initiative which began in 2020 aims at bridging the literacy gap by identifying the poorest performing children in class and categorising them based on their learning needs irrespective of their ages.

“These teachers work with the students long term and long after the project has come to an end, they’ll carry on these approaches which they’ve developed to the wider classrooms for the benefit of more students,” she explained. 

Utuk described the utilization of 21st-century teaching and learning methods within the Initiative, incorporating Information Communication Technology.

This includes the use of Talking books and pens, as well as educational games, which have demonstrated efficacy in enhancing dexterity and knowledge retention among young learners. Additionally, the Initiative employs the Teaching At the Right Level (TERL) approach, among other methodologies.

The Teach the Child Initiative boss, however, decried the slow pace at which approvals are granted to introduce the programme in schools.

“Receiving support from stakeholders at the national level comes with issues. Approvals were delayed. We need access to those schools, and we can’t get access to those schools unless approvals come. So this impacted the delivery of the programme.”

She added that the Initiative which currently covers three schools in Bwari Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory, is planning to scale beyond just an Area Council, hence the need for unrestricted support from all stakeholders to have the maximum impact of the programme. 

Speaking at the event, the Deputy Director/Head, of Junior Secondary Education, Federal Ministry of Education, Edith Osanyonpeju said the traditional One-size-fits-in education, no longer suffices. 

According to her, learning must be recognised as a lifelong journey, hence the need for students to be up-skilled and prepared for an ever-changing world.

Osanyonpeju, however, warned that tackling the challenges in the education sector is not quick.

The Chief Technology Officer of Mavis Computel, Chiemezie Ucheaga said that change begins with having a positive mindset that impacts the life of a child. 

According to him, Solution providers should understand the needs of the children and the best way to solve them. 

Ucheaga also urged solution providers to take advantage of the use of technology to enhance teaching and learning paces.

The Executive Director of Gem Hub Initiative, Oyeyemi Pitan who attended the event said there must be a deliberate effort by all stakeholders and the government to sustain the great initiative. 

She said the role of government in ensuring that policies are implemented cannot be overemphasised. 

She also advocated for more funding and effective planning to make education responsive to the needs of the people.

Blessing Matthew is a Nine-year-old pupil of LEA Primary School, Kubwa, She’s in primary 4b and has learnt how to use paper to make recyclable baskets. 

She said she feels great to be part of the beneficiaries of the Initiative. 

“It can be used at home, Schools, churches and mosques. I learnt wonderful things. I learnt how to spell, I learnt how to read, I also learnt how to write very well.”

From LEA Primary School Dawaki, Fatima Idris tells us about her experience:

“I’m in Primary 3A, I’m eleven years old. Teach the Child Initiative has helped me so, so much and I’m grateful. I learnt how to read, I learned how to play games and more. Before now, I could not read well, but when I joined Teach the Child Initiative, I learnt how to read very well.”

 The Junior Secondary Schools are not left out of the programme as Maryam Hassan,  JSS 2 student of Junior Secondary School, Dawaki speaks to us. 

“I’m fourteen years old. I learned how to read, how to write and how to spell when I joined Teach the Child Initiative. Before now I could not read, write or spell. I want to say thank you so much to Teach the Child Initiative.”

Teach the Child is a community project contributing to improved literacy skills in children especially those from low-income homes. 

 

Lantana Nasir

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