70% of Nigerian Children suffering from learning poverty, UNICEF asserts

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The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has asserted that 70 percent of Nigerian children are suffering from learning poverty.

According to the World Bank, learning poverty is defined as the inability of a 10-year-old to read or understand a simple sentence or solve basic numeracy problem.

Meanwhile, UNICEF noted that schooling does not always result in learning

“Many children, even if in school, are not learning fundamental skills required for proficiency. As a result, many children are experiencing learning poverty, with an estimated 70 per cent of Nigerian children falling under this category, varying from state to state.

“Even before COVID-19, the world was grappling with a learning crisis with half of all ten-year-olds in middle and low-income countries unable to read or comprehend a simple story. In sub-Saharan Africa this is nearly 9 in every 10 children.”

In a bid to combat this, the idea of introducing the Nigeria Learning Passport in states across the country was adopted.

Usamatu Mohammad Gona, the Katsina State Coordinator of the programme during the launch in Katsina said:

“The Nigeria Learning Passport is an electronic distance learning medium fortified with audio-visual materials and books to aid self-based learning has been launched in Katsina State to help fast track learning among pupils and students of primary and junior secondary schools across the state.

“The platform makes learning possible even outside the confines of a school which will help address the spiralling number of out-of-school children, especially in states where insecurity hinders access to schools.”

Gona further explained that:

“The NLP education model offers foundational literacy and numeracy skills, sciences, digital and employability skills. The Learning Passport supports early childhood education, primary and secondary education, and provides adolescent skills, technical & vocational education that is tailored to the needs of children and youth who are either out of school, or in need of support to ensure the education they are receiving is of sufficient quality.”

According to Gona, every child will have NLP overtime but in the short term, the target is to reach 4.5 million learners by 2023 and 12 million by 2025.

Meanwhile, the Learning Passport is delivered by UNICEF and the Federal Ministry of Education and powered by Microsoft, with funding support from Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and is free of charge for all learners.