USAID distributes nine million books to 7,900 schools in Sokoto, Bauchi
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has concluded its five-year education flagship activity, the Northern Education Initiative Plus (NEI Plus), which introduced a new local language early grade reading approach adopted by six Nigerian states.
The programme, implemented in close partnership with Bauchi and Sokoto States, and in collaboration with major education institutions, has increased access to basic education to about 269,000 out-of-school children, comprising mostly girls. It has also improved reading outcomes for almost one million children in the two states.
Speaking at the national closing ceremony of NEI Plus held both virtually and in Abuja, USAID Education Office Director, Denise O’Toole said: “Learning must start with reading. Teaching children to read in a language they understand gives them a powerful tool for lifelong learning. This will contribute to developing a new generation of leaders equipped to help Nigeria meet the challenges ahead.
According to her, because of the critical role of reading in human development, the agency supported Nigeria through NEI Plus to develop and distribute more than nine million teaching and learning materials to 2,300 schools and 5,600 non-formal learning centres across Bauchi and Sokoto States.
Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba assured that the Federal Government would continue to partner with USAID to provide basic education services that promote self-reliance.
Piloted in the northern states in Hausa, the materials designed for primary levels 1 to 3 were expanded to include Igbo and Yoruba versions for schools in the south, as well as English. In the last five years, the two states have invested more than $3.8 million (N1.6 billion) to expand the approach to all council areas.
USAID has also trained over 9,600 teachers in early grade reading and created a pool of Nigerian reading experts with capacity to train more teachers. Under the activity, 200 new community reading centres and 800 reading corners were opened in the two states.
These efforts have increased reading instructional time and opportunities for about one million children and can potentially reach more, if sustained and scaled up across the country.
USAID also recently assisted Nigeria to develop a National Reading Framework that sets common goals for reading standards and measurements to improve reading instruction.
To build on these gains, O’Toole said individuals and organisations as well as parents and local communities, must ensure that improved reading outcomes remain their top priorities and focus.
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