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Soyinka, Anwukah task teachers, pupils on language use


Anthony Anwuka. PHOTO:

Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, and the Minister of State for Education, Prof. Anthony Anwukah have tasked teachers to guide their pupils on the proper use of language.

The duo, who expressed concern over the literacy level in the country, said teachers must ensure that school children are not corrupted by what they read.

They spoke at the 5th Lafarge Africa National Literacy Competition, where Lagos State defeated five other regions to clinch the first prize.

There were 12 participants, two each representing Lagos, Kano, Rivers, Nassarawa, Gombe and Ebonyi states.

Nine-year old Lawal Kehinde and Idowu Ayomikun, 11, emerged winner, while Ebonyi and Gombe emerged first and second runners up.

The first to third place winners got cash prizes of N250, 000, N150, 000 and N100, 000 with other consolation prizes.
The overall winners from Lagos State also got scholarships to complete their secondary school education.

Soyinka, in his keynote address at the event held at the Civic Centre, Lagos and titled, “Bridging the literacy gap together”, said efforts should be intensified to improve literacy level in the country.

The scholar was particularly impressed that some states in the country, known for their high illiteracy level, reached the final stage of the competition.

“I am delighted to see representatives of the northern states; these states are at the forefront of the literacy struggle because they confront one of the most determined excusable enemies of reading, literacy, and enlightenment that we have ever experienced in this nation, the battle that is still ongoing. “When I see representatives, especially young representatives of those states in any kind of event that has to do with literature, literacy and education generally, I say to myself, the battle is not lost but will be won,” Soyinka said.

“We have an additional responsibility here, those of us who are comparatively protected, we need to redouble our efforts in making sure that literacy should not just be the ability to put one word together and another to make sense, or to put two together to communicate. Language is a preoccupation, a commitment and a discipline. I want to appeal to teachers here to redouble their efforts to see that the school pupils are not corrupted by what they read. By that I’m talking about language itself, not just as a tool of communication but also as a repository of the philosophy of the entire gamut of culture of any people,” he added.

Anwukah said the Federal Government was making efforts to improve literacy level in the country.

The minister pointed out that through initiatives such as the development of school facilities across the country and the National Home Grown School Feeding Programme, government has been able to increase school enrollment and completion level.

According to him, the dropout rate of primary school students is about 30 per cent and this is known to be a major root of illiteracy.

The Chairman, Lafarge Africa, Mr Bolaji Balogun said the competition, the fifth in the series, was designed in line with the company’s sustainability strategy, which complements the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 4.

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