Over the years, Literacy experts and ambassadors across the world have through research, claimed that there is a high literacy challenge across Africa and there had been various advocacies to ensure there is a change in this narrative. But while progress has been made, there is still a yawning literacy gap within the African continent and there is still a lot to do to improve literacy in Africa.
It has been said that Africa needs intervention in terms of innovative solutions to this challenge for the continent to attain great heights economically, socially and for the populace to also attain individual development.
This has been proved by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation ( (UNESCO), in one of its research findings where it stated that one-third of sub-Saharan Africans over 15 years old are unable to read and write and nearly two-thirds of these are women. There are many reasons for this, but unaffordable, inaccessible education is one of the biggest factors responsible for this.
It is said that most lessons in Africa are taught in English or other non-local languages which makes it hard for students who struggle with second language comprehension and teachers who are saddled with the responsibility of training students and giving instructions in a language they’re not fully proficient in.
To call attention to this challenge and as part of activities marking this year’s International Day of the African child, members of the Literary, Debating and Public Speaking club of WIN- Rites Montessori School held a round table talk on the importance of literacy for the African child.
The children emphasised that literacy, which is the ability to read and write is a necessity for living. , noting that lacking simple reading and writing skills is a great disadvantage because literacy not only improves an individual’s life but also creates opportunities for people to develop skills that will help them provide for themselves and their family.
“The African child needs literacy in order to engage with the written word in everyday life. The African child needs literacy so as not to be laid-back. Children who can’t read effectively fail to grasp important concepts, score poorly on tests and ultimately fail to reach educational milestones. Without literacy there is no social interaction,” the children said.
Members of the literary Debating and Public Speaking Club also discussed the uniqueness of the African child. A member of the club Fikayomi Ogunwale, highlighted the uniqueness of the African child some of which are resilience, intelligence, and the strength of the African child.
Ibukun Ogunyeye said “the African child is a solution. The African child is not inferior to the children in other continents. The African child has dreams that must be actualised. The African child has a voice that must be heard and rights that must be protected. “
Another member, Al-Ameen Oganla mentioned some of the travails of the African child such as poverty, child abuse, child marriage and denied access to education while Opeyemi Ipadeola spoke about the impact of Covid-19 on children and the restraining effect of the corona virus during the lockdown, adding that it affected everything about children as children could no longer go to school and only a few children had the opportunity to engage in virtual learning.
However, some of members of the club took the opportunity to lament on how they missed school during the six months lockdown , missed their friends, missed learning and how up till now, some activities in the school have been put on hold such as morning assembly, sporting activities etc.
The children are hopeful that they are back to school for good and their continued learning is guaranteed as Education is their life blood.
The advocacy by the pupils of the Literary, Debating and Public Speaking club of WIN- Rites Montessori School, further reiterates the need for literacy projects to be embedded into community development projects to help learners become literate and give them vital skills.
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