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International Literacy and thoughts on the ASUU strike



International Literacy Day 2017: My Comment on The ASUU Strike

By Oluwole Sheriff Olusanya


Annually, September 8th which is the International Literacy Day is observed. This year’s International Literacy Day is celebrated across the world under the theme – ‘Literacy in a digital world’. Today, a global event will be organized at UNESCO’s Headquarters in Paris with the overall aim being to look at what kind of literacy skills people need to navigate increasingly digitally-mediated societies and to explore effective literacy policies and programmes that can leverage the opportunities that the digital world provides.


In record speed, digital technologies are fundamentally changing the way people live, work, learn and socialise everywhere. They are giving new possibilities to people to improve all areas of their lives including access to information; knowledge management; networking; social services; industrial production and mode of work. However, those who lack access to digital technologies and the knowledge, skills and competencies required to navigate them, can end up marginalised in increasingly digitally driven societies. Literacy is one of such essential skill. Just as knowledge, skills and competencies evolve in the digital world, so does what it means to be literate. To close the literacy skills gap and reduce inequalities, this year’s International Literacy Day will highlight the challenges and opportunities in promoting literacy in the digital world, a world where, despite progress, at least 750 million adults and 264 million out-of-school children still lack basic literacy skills. (Source: UNESCO’s Official Website)


September 8th was proclaimed International Literacy Day by UNESCO on November 17, 1965. Its aim is to highlight the importance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies. Every year, UNESCO reminds the international community of the status of literacy and adult learning globally. Celebrations take place around the world. According to UNESCO’s “Global Monitoring Report on Education for All (2006)”, South and West Asia has the lowest regional adult literacy rate (58.6%), followed by sub-Saharan Africa (59.7%), and the Arab States (62.7%). Countries with the lowest literacy rates in the world are Burkina Faso (12.8%), Niger (14.4%) and Mali (19%). The report shows a clear connection between illiteracy and countries in severe poverty, and between illiteracy and prejudice against women. Literacy has been described as the ability to read for knowledge and write coherently and think critically about the written word. Literacy can also include the ability to understand all forms of communication, be it body language, pictures, video or sound (reading, speaking, listening and viewing). Evolving definitions of literacy often include all the symbol systems relevant to a community. (Source:


Interestingly, I have been writing on the International Literacy Day observance consecutively for the past three years, this is my third article on the same topic in three years. The previous articles can be accessed on my blog – ( and ( In my previous article titled; “The Delivery of Qualitative & Quantitative Education in Nigeria: Reading the Past, Writing the Future”, I noted that the Federal Government headed by President Muhammadu Buhari has not achieved any significant success in the educational sector since the inception of his administration. I also offered advice on how the condemn-able situation of things in the sector can be improved upon but I do not think anyone is listening to me. Excerpts; “One of the ways the decrepit state of affairs can be a turned around for greater efficient and educational tourism would be reduced significantly is to ensure that budgetary allocations are improved. This is of utmost urgency because it would ensure the gradual evolvement of infrastructure which is disappointingly dilapidated.  However, I also like to remind the government at all levels that any positive change would only occur where there is persistent follow-up to ensure that projects awarded are fully executed because corruption is another problem that needs to be tackled in that sector for another significant revolution to take place”. (Oluwole Olusanya, 2016).


Most importantly, the latest news in the educational sector in Nigeria is the ongoing ASUU strike which started co-incidentally on my birthday – 14th August 2017. According to a letter signed by the Union’s National President, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, the issues at stake included payment of fractions/non-payment of salaries; non-payment of earned academic allowances, non-release of operational licence of NUPENCO, retired professors and their salaries, university staff schools, and funds for the revitalization of public universities. An interview with the ASUU President – Prof. Ogunyemi explains in explicit terms the reasons behind the unavoidable strike action. (Read more at:


Conclusively, “Nigeria has one of the highest numbers of out-of-school children in the world; we also have a large number of adult illiterates. These disappointing facts are a clear revelation of the non-chalant attitude of successive administrations and condemnable desert occasioned by mal-administration. Perhaps, it is quite unfortunate that there has not been any significant improvement in the educational sector in the past 12 months and this is the main reason I decided to pen-down my disappointments and offer advice to those in the positions of authority so that they can be reminded that education is the bedrock of any society and it should be given adequate attention for the country to move forward” (The Delivery of Qualitative & Quantitative Education in Nigeria: Reading the Past, Writing the Future – Oluwole Olusanya, 2016).


Oluwole Olusanya works at Sterling Bank, Lagos


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