The Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) has pinpointed a lackadaisical approach to implementing language policies as a significant obstacle to Nigeria’s achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Dr. Hamid Bobboyi, the Executive Secretary of UBEC, conveyed this concern during a two-day stakeholders meeting in Abuja themed “Dialogue on Reading Initiative in the UBE Programme and the Use of Mother Tongue/Language of Immediate Environment as Medium of Instruction.”
Highlighting Nigeria’s severe learning crisis, Dr. Bobboyi emphasized the urgent need for action to avert hindrances to SDGs attainment. Citing reports by the National Bureau of Statistics and UNICEF, he revealed alarming statistics indicating that a large proportion of Nigerian children lack basic literacy and numeracy skills.
Despite various interventions by governments and international partners, challenges persist, including inadequate access to instructional materials, poor teaching quality, and a lack of commitment from states to implement language policies favoring mother tongue instruction.
Dr. Bobboyi stressed the fundamental role of quality education in national development, underscoring the necessity for dialogue and collaboration to address these issues effectively. He outlined UBEC’s proactive stance in soliciting ideas from stakeholders to devise strategies for improvement.
Professor Ismail Junaidu, Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC), echoed the importance of implementing the National Language Policy, advocating for the use of mother tongue in basic education up to primary six. He urged communities to support this initiative and pledged technical assistance from NERDC to facilitate its implementation.
However, Professor Junaidu lamented challenges such as apathy, political will, shortage of language teachers, and inadequate funding. He called for intensified sensitization, production of instructional materials, capacity building, and partnership between agencies and development partners.
Munamuzunga Sikaulu, UNICEF Education Manager, emphasized the need for actionable measures to address the learning crisis, stressing the motivational benefits of using mother tongue in instruction. He urged stakeholders to collaborate in delivering quality basic education to Nigerian children.
The dialogue concluded with a call for concerted efforts to overcome obstacles and ensure that language policies translate into tangible improvements in education outcomes across Nigeria.