By Bukar Bolori
United States (U.S.) has launched $48.8 million investment in Nigeria’s education.
The investment which is through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) tagged Leveraging Education Assistance Resources in Nigeria (LEARN) Read Activity, is aimed at improving early grade reading in the country over the next five years.
A press statement from the U.S. Embassy on Thursday read that: “This $48.8 million U.S. Mission Nigeria investment in education will provide a better future to millions of Nigerian children, and help lead to thriving, prosperous communities throughout Nigeria.”
The statement further revealed that: “LEARN to Read will contribute to improvement in the reading outcomes of more than 3.5 million children in 5,900 schools and in the capacity of more than 35,000 teachers, headteachers, and school support officers to support early grade reading in about 6,000 schools.”
The Supervisory Program Office Director USAID/Nigeria, Stephen Menard was quoted to have said at the launch, that: “The new USAID activity will ensure that school-age children and youth in Nigeria are able to gain foundational skills, such as literacy and numeracy, safely, while building critical social and emotional skills to progress to higher levels of education, training, and employment.”
Minister of State for Education, Goodluck Nana Opiah was quoted to have said at the launch early in the week, that: “The Federal Ministry of Education recognizes the efforts of USAID in the last 20 years to improve literacy in Nigeria through its innovative programs,”. adding that: “LEARN to Read will build on the close collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council, and language/curriculum experts to support mother tongue-based medium of instruction in the early grades.”
The statement claimed that USAID’s education programme focuses on the most vulnerable parts of the population, while supporting the Government of Nigeria to deliver quality education, noting that key focus areas of the present programme include increasing enrollment, strengthening basic education, building capacity of teachers, and raising minimum academic standards for reading curriculum.
According to the statement, the LEARN to Read activity will build on the gains of the recently concluded USAID-funded Northern Education Initiative (NEI Plus), which improved reading outcomes for more than one million children in Bauchi and Sokoto states. LEARN to Read will strengthen and scale up early grade reading best practices in both states, designated as Legacy states. It will leverage more state and private resources to infuse global best practices for the teaching and learning of early grade reading in the states.
The statement added that: “In addition to supporting the two Legacy states, LEARN to Read will also offer technical assistance to two other states (designated as Launching states) and at least another two states (designated as On-demand states) as part of USAID’s mission to support education and reach millions more children with lifelong skills across Nigeria. These efforts will help develop a new generation of leaders equipped to help Nigeria meet the development challenges ahead.”