The federal government has called on all states of the federation to establish State Agencies for Mass Education (SAME) to enable government to achieve National Poverty Reduction with Growth Strategy (NPRGS) which aims to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years.
Professor Simon Ibor Akpama, the Executive Secretary, National Commission for Mass Literacy, Adult and Non-Formal Education, made the call at the weekend while flagging off the Literacy through Economic Empowerment Scheme (LEES) in Benin, Edo State.
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He said establishing state agencies for mass education will enable government to apply non-formal education in reducing poverty among the non-literate adult population which has the greatest number of poor people.
He said: “It is common knowledge that one of the underlying causes of poverty is illiteracy among the adult population. The majority of the poor people in Nigeria belong to the non-literate adult population and the out-of-school children mostly aged 15 years and above.”
While noting that training the non-literate population to become literate and independent is the core mandate of the commission, he said the programme they flagged off, codenamed LEES, is at the heart of Mr. President’s poverty reduction programme and Edo State is making history as the pilot state for the flag-off of the Scheme.
“LEES will provide graduates from both the basic and post-literacy programmes with relevant kits and starter packs to establish their own businesses such as salons, fashion designing shops and the like.
“This will change their status, making them creators of wealth and even employers of labour thereby leading to a reduction in unemployment and increase in income generation.”
With the launch of the pilot scheme of the Learning through Economic Empowerment Strategy (LEES) in Edo State, Prof. Akpama said the commission is ready to bring more non-literate adults and out-of-school children back to the classroom to help the government achieve poverty reduction.
In her remark, Edo State Commissioner for Education, Dr. Joan Osa Oviawe, said they will work with the commission, but that the state government’s policy was to tackle basic literacy through the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB).
She said the governor has given them a mandate to essentially streamline the various tiers of education.
“By streamlining, we’re also hoping to eliminate duplication and ambiguities in policy formulation and implementation that have failed to create an environment or ecosystem where, instead of different parts working together, you find everyone fighting for territory and nothing is being done.”