50% of students in Enugu State are illiterate in English – Enugu SSG

Professor Chidiebere Onyia

According to Prof. Chidiebere Onyia, Secretary to the Enugu State Government (SSG), half of the state’s student population is illiterate and unable to complete basic maths problems.

This was said by Onyia during his keynote speech at the Old Boys Association of Union Secondary School, Awkunanaw, quadrennial convention on Thursday in Enugu, under the topic “Smart Basic Education and the Future of Africa.”

He added that in November 2023, the state government carried out a Baseline Assessment of the state’s elementary schools, which revealed the deficiencies in students’ literacy and numeracy proficiency.

“Our findings were shocking. After six years of primary school, 50 per cent of our children cannot read a single word in English and those who can read struggle with comprehension.

“50% of our children cannot solve simple subtraction challenges. What we found out in Enugu State is written large across our nation,” Onyia said.

Furthermore, the Secretary to the Enugu State Government noted that he was disappointed that in Nigeria, 3 out of 4 children who completed basic education lack numeracy and literacy proficiency.

“The World Bank, UNICEF, and UNESCO have defined this as ‘the Nigerian Learning Crisis’.

“On top of this, our children suffer a “Skills Gap” because existing modes of teaching do not equip children with scientific, technological, productive, and digital competencies,” Onyia added.

But according to Mr. Onyia, the state government’s education strategy has been reoriented to incorporate cutting-edge technologies into education, especially at the basic school level, in an effort to spur industrial growth.

He also revealed that Governor Peter Mbah has worked hard to change Enugu State’s educational system to better suit the needs of a changing world.

He claims that the Enugu State Government is already tackling the disparity in reading and numeracy skills through well-considered radical policy initiatives, such implementing a smart school model in all 260 of the state’s electoral wards.

Remember that almost two months prior, Governor Peter Mbah disclosed the administration’s intention to construct model smart schools in each of Enugu State’s 260 wards within a 14-month period.

Gov. Mbah had revealed that the model smart schools will have interactive smart boards, robotics and artificial intelligence centres, and other amenities. Teachers who will lead the school’s operations would also receive training from international specialists.

The SSG went on to say that problem-solving, experiential learning, and case studies are given top priority in the academic programmes that are currently being implemented throughout the state.

Mr Onyia pointed out that the changes in the state’s education sector would equip students with emerging technological skills and also give them opportunities to compete with their peers globally.

“In Enugu State, we now believe that in addition to providing continuous training and professional development to teachers within the school systems, we must also transform how teachers teach, as well as how students learn,” the SSG said.