Reflections on World Book Day

As you are quite aware, we are interested in government spending for education in Nigeria for local communities as education is key achieving development for any nation. For us the World Book Day celebrated on March 3 every year [it’s presently 19 years old] presents a unique opportunity to look beyond books and delve into education in Nigeria.

Regardless of structure, i.e. formal or informal, education can have a large impact on the social, political and economic spheres of life of citizens of a country.

In Nigeria’s National Policy on Education (FRN 1998), it is stated that the Federal Government has adopted education as an instrument for effecting National Development in all areas of the nation. In Nigeria’s philosophy of Education, we believe that:-

  1. Education is an instrument for national development, and the interaction of persons and ideas are all aspects of education;
  2. Education fosters the worth development of the individual, for each individual’s sake, and for general development of the society;
  3. The training of the mind in the understanding of the world around; and
  4. The acquisition of appropriate skills and competencies as equipment for the individual to live in and contribute to the development of the society.

With disparate figures on the number of Nigerians who are illiterate [In 2010, UNESCO put the number of illiterate youth at 8.6million, this is aside adults] it is imperative that we reflect on the poor reading culture of the youth and education in rural Nigeria.

When last did you enjoy a book? I’m not talking reports, figures or articles, I mean a book, with a preface, forward and all the prefixes that characterise a book. Did you muse on the characters; did you escape for a while and connect with the essence of the story? Oh books! Technology has made reading easier [we now have e-books, downloadable content we can carry on-the-go, and so on].

Just a few days ago, the chairman senate Committee on Tertiary Education and TETFund, Binta Garba, shared that $2bn is spent by the elite yearly on foreign education. She described the trend as embarrassing but noted it could be curbed if stakeholders work at strengthening the weak educational structures in the country [Weak education structure costs Nigeria $2bn annually –NASS] Is it really a shocking figure; education is expensive regardless of whether home or abroad. Families run into debt trying to put their children through school; young people take up menial jobs to make ends meet as well – all of which are a result of Nigeria’s economic standing.

Policies upon policies have been introduced to supposedly put Nigeria on the right track to educating its citizens but so far, no translated improvements have been noted.

In January 2016, the governor of Kaduna State introduced the school feeding program in his state [El Rufai to provide one meal per day to 1.5m pupils in Kaduna] as an incentive promote education and nutrition.

Professor Yemi Osinbanjo, the vice president of Nigeria announced “Teach Nigeria”, an initiative to employ 500,000 Nigerians as teachers as part of the social programs planned by President Buhari’s administration which as a planned policy sounds good but what is the capacity of the intended teachers? Are the educational infrastructure in Nigeria good enough to support such a cause?

World read aloud day

CODE at World Read Aloud Day

In line with SDG Goal 4 [Quality Education] which is aimed at ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all, CODE partnered with fellow CSOs in February for the World Read Aloud Day. We encouraged children to explore the exciting world of books and discussed with teachers challenges facing education and the diminishing reading culture. 

It is key to note that despite poor education in rural Nigeria, most of the resources used for enriching the economy of the nation stems from such areas. As insurgency has left areas in North-East Nigeria vulnerable, we also have to look at new situations such as “safe education”.

Sigh! Anyways back to books. Growing up many Nigerians picked up reading in secondary school where books such as “The Passport of Mallam Iliya” by Cyprian Ekwensi, “Without A Silver Spoon”by Eddie Iroh, “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe, “The Wives’ Revolt” by J P Clark, the list is endless!

Let’s celebrate the authors, illustrators, books and reading.

You could share with us your favourite books as well and remember to instil a love of book in young people wherever you are.

Happy World Book Day.


AboutHamzat Lawal
Hamzat Lawal is an activist and currently the Co-Founder/Chief Executive of Connected Development [CODE]. He is working to build a growing grassroots movement of citizen-led actions through Follow The Money for better service delivery in rural communities. He is also a Leader of the Not Too Young To Run Movement.

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