For its efforts to combat improve literacy in Nigeria through the fast-track English literacy method, Jolly Phonics, the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) has received commendation from leading educationists across the world.
Through its partnership with UK-based educational publisher, Jolly Learning Ltd, and the not-for-profit organisation, Universal Learning Solutions, the commission’s Jolly Phonics project trained 50,000 teachers in public schools across 31 states in the country and has reached approximately 3.5 million children.
Results from the beneficiary states have highlighted how children taught by Jolly Phonics trained teachers read and write significantly above those taught by teachers who have not been exposed to the Jolly Phonics method.
Dr. Louise Gittins from York University, UK, said: “Teachers are able to see the results in their classroom very quickly and this acts as a great form of motivation and encouragement for them. The results are seeing more and more parents send their children to government schools, often at the expense of the private schools, which is quite remarkable.”
According to Sue Lloyd MBE, who wrote the Jolly Phonics methodology some 25 years ago, “I commend UBEC for the great leadership they have shown in scaling up the project across all states in the Federation. I am very proud of what has been achieved in Nigeria but understand that there is still much work to do in dealing with the challenge of illiteracy in the country. Meeting this challenge will require on-going support from all stakeholders”.
By March, 2018, State Universal Basic Education Boards (SUBEBs) utilizing funds from UBEC’s Teacher Professional Development (TPD) fund has invested N2,096,332,326.00 (N1,190,148,461.00 in 2015 and N906,183,865.00 in 2016) in the Jolly Phonics project in most states.
Philanthropic support for the project to the value of £11 Million has been provided by Chris Jolly, the Managing Director of Jolly Learning. Furthermore, the copyright to produce the Jolly Phonics materials in Nigeria has also been provided freely with UBEC now printing and distributing hundreds of thousands of copies of the materials across the states.
Dr Hamid Bobboyi, Executive Secretary, UBEC said, “UBEC is proud of the achievements of the Jolly Phonics project as noted in the most recent impact report provided to us by Universal Learning Solutions. Whilst there is clearly still much work to do if we are to address the high levels of illiteracy in the country, it is clear that this project is delivering success and helping UBEC to attain its vision of delivering access to a quality education for all.”
It is expected that improved commitment by stakeholders to the Jolly Phonics project will ensure eventual scale up of the project across states and schools that are yet to benefit from the initiative. While private schools are also expected to adopt the method to ultimately improve Nigeria’s literacy rating.