Literacy Fellowship is an initiative introduced to promote basic and functional literacy skills among adults and youths in Nigeria through an innovative youth engagement/volunteering program. UNESCO announced in 2014 that 52 Millions Nigerian adults could not read and write and called on Nigerian government to find lasting solution to the worrisome rate of illiteracy in the country. The fellowship program identifies and trains passionate educated youths on literacy advocacy and thereafter mobilize them as volunteer facilitators to literacy classes in their respective local communities. Literacy Fellowship is a unique initiative that is making use of the selected community youths (also called literacy fellows) to solve the illiteracy problem facing their communities. Apart from the basic literacy program, literacy fellows also work in other areas of literacy such as health literacy, agricultural literacy, environmental literacy, among others.
The central aim of the initiative is to work towards a literate society that is fit for the 21st century knowledge economy. The specific objectives are (1. to empower Nigerian youths with necessary knowledge and skills through training on social entrepreneurship, and (2. to reduce the illiteracy rate in Nigeria by engaging young people in volunteering literacy advocacy in their local communities.
HOW THE OBJECTIVES WERE ACHIEVED
The Fellowship works with Universities and Colleges of Education in Nigeria to identify and select exceptional and passionate young undergraduate and graduate students, train them on different areas of literacy advocacy/community mobilizing and thereafter mobilize them back to their communities to work on different literacy project aimed at empowering the non-literate community members with basic, functional and vocational skills.
The innovation of this initiative is the engagement of young people as volunteer literacy facilitators in adult literacy programs in Nigeria. Before the initiative was launched in early 2014, many of the adult literacy centers established by the Federal and States government were closing down due to funding problem that resulted into non-payment of the Monthly allowances to the retired teachers hired to facilitate adult literacy classes. This situation contributed to the rising rate of illiteracy in the country as many of the adult learners had to drop out of the literacy programs. Literacy Fellowship came to rescue this situation by mobilizing educated youths as volunteer facilitators to these literacy centers.
The launching of the Literacy Fellowship significantly increased the enrollment rate of non-literate adults in literacy classes. Within the first 2 years of launching (2014 & 2015), the initiative was able to engage close to 100 youths in literacy advocacy and over 700 adults and youths were empowered with reading, writing and numeracy skills. Moreover, the selected literacy fellows were able to work on other areas of literacy such as health literacy and environmental literacy to further improve on the socio-economic situations of their communities.
- The last Newsletter of the initiative can be accessed here: http://bit.ly/1IEI5IT
The biggest challenge facing the initiative at the moment is the limited resources to replicate it other parts of the country as the fellowship program is currently operating in 3 States of Nigeria. Replicating it in other parts of Nigeria, especially in the North, will significantly help achieving the central objective of the initiative.
That young people are the most crucial resources of any community to meet the needs of the community.