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State News: AKSG Partners With NGO: Sets to Lead The Fight Against Illiteracy in Africa
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AKSG Partners With NGO: Sets to Lead The Fight Against Illiteracy in Africa
29 Mar 2010

Truly speaking, the free, compulsory and qualitative education policy of the present administration has paid off as it is beginning to attract partnership from outside the country. In this direction, the Akwa Ibom State Government intends to partner with United Kingdom based Non Governmental Organizations: Stepping Stones Nigeria, UK and Jolly Learning, UK, on the “Read and Write Now” initiative for the introduction of synthetic phonics into government primary schools.

In a press statement tagged “Akwa Ibom State to lead the fight against illiteracy in Africa” issued in Uyo by the state Ministry of Education, the Executive Director, Jolly Learning, UK Ltd., and Stepping Stones Nigeria, UK Chris Jolly stated thus, “we are delighted to be able to support this exciting and innovative project. We hope that Akwa Ibom State is the first of many states in Nigeria to adopt this method and look forward to hearing from other Nigerian states who are interested in forging such partnership”.

The initial training for the read and write now initiative which took place in the UK recently was attended by officials of the state Ministry of Education and some University of Uyo teachers headed by the state Commissioner of Education, Dr Nseabasi Akpan. Speaking at the training in London, Dr Akpan posited that the Akwa Ibom State Government was determined to provide a decent level of education for all its citizens and expressed the government’s appreciation to Stepping Stones and Jolly Learning for their warm reception and for raising awareness on the latest teaching methods in schools.

The Programme Director of Steeping Stones Nigeria, Garry Foxcroft, emphasized that all the children have equal opportunity to be able to read and write as the initiative is aimed at improving the reading and writing skills of the children. He stated that the concept is to train public primary school teachers in the use of fast-track literacy methods that is the Jolly Phonics which will provide them with learning materials free of charge for a period of two years, stressing that the method is used widely in many schools in the UK, USA, and other countries around the world.

A pilot study by the University of Uyo on the effectiveness of the Jolly Phonics clearly highlighted its great potentials. However, until now, schools in Africa have been slow to catch up. Also speaking about the findings, Prof. Comfort Ekpo of the University of Uyo, said “the children taught using Jolly Phonics had reading ages that were up to 27 months higher than pupils taught using conventional methods. Such significant findings highlight the need for states throughout Nigeria to implement this teaching method”.

Meanwhile, come September this year, Akwa Ibom State Government will play host to some states of the federation on the introduction of the new teaching methods of “synthetic phonics”. This was contained in a press statement recently issued by the state Ministry of Education, which indicated that the programme will focus on the theme “Read and Write Now Initiative”. The statement noted that the initiative involves the rapid teaching of forty-two letter sounds in isolation, while simultaneously teaching children how to blend these sounds together to read a word.

According to the release, “the method is fast paced and extremely interactive, which makes it ideal for young learners, and that each school will receive training resources and on-going support to ensure every pupil has the skills they need to read and write with confidence”.

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