The in-school girls at the LEA primary school, Jikoko, a community under the Bwari Area Council in the Federal Capital Territory, were excited as they were already seated to receive their guests who were coming to celebrate the World Read Aloud Day 2020 in their school.
The event organised by Empowering Communities through Strategic Actions for Transformation (ECOSTAT) and Tabitha Cum Foundation, and sponsored by Mercy Corps, is to give opportunities to the vulnerable girls and boys in communities to learn how to read and write.
The Lit World deemed it fit to found the World Read Aloud Day in 2010 to give opportunity for people all around the globe to celebrate the joy of reading aloud, and advocate for literacy as a fundamental human right that belongs to everyone.
The pupils said the day means a lot to them as it has helped to improve their reading and writing skills.
One of the pupils who volunteered to read aloud to her school mates in celebration of the day, 11 year old Heritage Fatoyebi, was cheered with a loud round of applause, a reward entitled to any pupil who has done well.
Miss Fatoyebi who said some of her classmate cannot read said, knowing how to read and write is a great thing, while explaining that she started reading from primary one because she developed interest in whatever her sisters were reading, coupled with what she is learning in school.
Jiiko Chikuwa, an indigene of Jikoko community who said she graduated from secondary school but could barely read or write, said the ECOSTAT programme has helped her as she can now read and write.
Research revealed that there are 774 million people around the world who cannot read or write, just as an estimated 75 million people do not have basic literacy skills. Additionally, there are 10.5 million out-of-school children in Nigeria, the highest number of out-of-school children in the world.
The 5th of every February since 2010 has been set aside to celebrate the World Read Aloud Day to allow millions of people to celebrate reading out loud and advocate for literacy as a human right.The day is a celebration of the written word and the power of stories to bring people together.
Mercy Corps focal person for ECOSTAT project, Deborah Brown, said they are joining other organisations across the world to celebrate because they have a project on promoting literacy among marginalised populations.
“This community is one of our catchment areas. We thought it was wise to reach out to those in schools as well as those in community; to talk to, read aloud stories to them on issues that affect them, such as sexual abuse. From reactions, the stories were impactful to the children as well as their teachers.” she said.
The Assistant one teacher, LEA primary school, Mrs Faith Ekenga, said they are happy to participate in the celebration.
“Once a child knows how to read, that child will be able to defend himself anywhere because reading is the basic thing that should be imparted in any child.” she said.
She said they have a challenge of language barrier because most of the pupils speak their local dialect rather than English, but when they register with us, they keep improving.
Mrs Ekenga said the children have improved drastically.