David Mann chairs a nongovernment organization Advocacy for Positive Behavioural Patterns Initiative.
In this interview he speaks about challenges of tackling illiteracy and proffered solutions to the lingering problem of soaring illiteracy in the country.
What do you think is the major challenge of tackling soaring illiteracy in the country?
Government is trying but they need to do more. The challenge is that when Government pumped money into the education sector they should make sure that it get to the grass root level.
They should make education compulsory and liaise with traditional rulers to ensure that every child go to school. Government should provide foods to encourage children to go to school. If the children know that if they come to school they will at least get one squire meal a day they will rush to school.
Some believe policy inconsistency is one of the major factors militating against mass literacy in the country. What is your take on this?
Yes I agree policy inconsistency is another challenge. If we have continuation in policy example like the present government introduced feeding programme in primary schools the next government should continue with it.
By so doing, it will become a norm in the society. Lack of fund is another challenge. Due to the corrupt nature that we have found ourselves that funding usually don’t go to the root.
If you earmarked like N50 million every month to one of the area councils you will be so shocked that the principal will take out some amount, the teachers will take their shares, before it get to the students the money will be so small. If you go to most of the rural schools we find out that there are no chairs and learning materials.
What is the solution to this soaring illiteracy in the country?
Government should relate with traditional rulers at the grass root level. Government should provide funds and ensure that it get directly to the grass root level. They should also ensure check and balance to ensure that the money is spent judiciously.
What makes it difficult to oversee functionally?
The challenges that we are facing is lack of funding. Most of the NGOs have the zeal but funding is always the problem. We are in partnership with Universal Basic Education Board (UBEB) that whenever they are going out to the rural communities we are going with them to meet people in the rural communities. Our work is to change their mindset, attitude and behaviour towards education. We want t educate them on the importance of sending their children to school.
Why this Initiative?
It is born out of passion I had when I was serving my NYSC at Gombe State. I was posted to Yamaltu Deba Local Government. I was the Corps Liaison Officer (CLO). I was also posted to Federal College of Education. I saw some students that have the zeal but language was a burrier to them. I took upon myself since I was born in Zaria and I can speak Hausa language to mobilise some of my corps members to go to schools that are in rural areas and teach. Not only to go into the classroom and teach but to tell the students the importance of education. Why are they in the school?. I said let us start teaching them even in their local dialect. Sometimes if we explained in their dialect they would start wondering and said oh is that what you people mean. I now discovered that teaching and learning go hand in hand. When there is teaching there must be learning and visa-visa. That was how the idea of my NGO came into being.
What would the initiative be known for?
It is simple. We are here to impart knowledge on the masses especially at the grass root level. We want to imbibe the positive attitude of teenagers. Our vision is to imbibe right attitude. Like in the educational sector we tell younger ones that they should ask themselves Why I my in the school? Why don’t I go out and play? You are in the school to acquire knowledge so that you can be meaningful to yourself and to the future generation and the society.