Given the large number of out-of-school children in Nigeria, unequal access to literacy poses threat of poverty, poor health, insecurity and an increase in crime rate.
Mrs. Zainab Mabini-Adesanya, the Creative Head of Zatem Consultancy Services, said this in her welcome address at this year’s virtually held Literacy Connect 2.0.
She added that the COVID-19 pandemic widened the gap, making the out-of-school figures scarier.
According to Mabini-Adesanya, “As great citizens of this country, we cannot wait, fold our arms and pretend that all is well.
“Unequal access to literacy for every child poses threats of poverty, poor health, insecurity and increase in crime rate,” she added at the Literacy Connect, which had one keynote speaker, three facilitators and six panelists.
The keynote speaker, Olanrewaju Oniyitan, said everyone had a role to play in making quality literacy content available for every child.
She emphasised the need for the government to explore alternative learning models beyond the regular school, such that children can learn wherever they are.
She said every school must ensure that high quality literacy curriculum and instructional materials are available within school.
Oniyitan urged teachers to teach culturally-relevant instructions and engage children differently according to their abilities.
John Ebi, the convener of Pronouncing Bee, who facilitated the first seminar that focused on ‘Effective Strategies, Contents and Resources for Teaching Speaking Skill, mentioned that teachers have the responsibility of helping children to speak exceptionally because interacting with teachers form part of children experiences.
He believes “It is important we have children who can change tomorrow— children who can pronounce words correctly, use great intonation and persuade people.
“One of the things I have in my mind is to have Nigerian children dominate international platforms, because we have great talents. We do not want to be talented and then be followers.”
The first panel session has great influencers in the Nigerian education sector – Fakiya Ummul Furqan, Rhoda Odigboh and Raf’ah Bolajoko Adagun.
They spoke on roles of educators in inclusive literacy sessions for learners with dyslexia.
Important nuggets shared at this session was that first, “There must be no labelling or name-calling”.
A child should not be pronounced dyslexic until s/he has been properly diagnosed by clinical psychologist who is well versed in childhood education.
While there are lots of undiagnosed cases, it is important for literacy teachers to use various methods and materials that are helpful to all learners, whether they are dyslexic or not.
The afternoon session started with Seminar 2 facilitated by Ololade Kuku, who joined in from the United Kingdom.
The discourse for her session was Best Practices for Literacy Teachers to Teach Reading for Meaning.
Using various children’s books as examples, Kuku demonstrated various strategies that teachers can use to attract children’s attention, keep them focused and engaged during reading classes.
She emphasised that children can develop comprehension and creative thinking skills if given access to loads of literature.
She encouraged school administrators to set up reading corner in the classrooms.
Next was the panel session on the power of integrating storytelling, poetry and drama in literacy classes, which featured Onyekachi Peter Onuoha, Yusuf Uthman Adekola and Mike Adejonwo.
Onuoha, a literary critic, novelist and Assistant Lecturer at the University of Calabar, said teachers must encourage children to start telling their own stories.
Adekola shared an experience he had with some sets of students. He told the students to look around and write a poem about anything that came to their mind.
He recollected that some of the students wrote striking poems. Adekola buttressed that integrating poetry in regular literacy lessons improves students’ critical thinking and imagination skills.
He called on schools to have functional literacy clubs that can bring out the best in students.
Adejonwo explained that role plays, short plays, and drama arouse students’ interest, help facilitate learning and enhance students’ collaboration and creativity skills.
He, however, stated that short plays must be well managed to avoid distraction in the classroom.
Esther Chibuzor, Founder of Raising Young Authors, joined from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, to share lesson ideas and resources for teaching creative writing.
She said the creative writing class must be systematic, strategic, stylistic and simple.
She shared several examples from her classroom where she dressed like the main character, created mnemonics, did hands-on activities and outdoor activities, among others.
In his closing remarks, Coach Adebisi Adeyemi of Ideal Learning Educational Support Services, mentioned that something brought everyone together— the passion to add value.
He commended the host and all the facilitators who shared their knowledge, experiences and resources with participants without requesting for payment.
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