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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the National Commission for Mass Literacy, Adult and Non-Formal Education all about?

The National Commission for Mass Literacy, Adult and Non-Formal education is the statutory Federal Government parastatal under the Ministry of Education charged with responsibility of making literate all those who for one reason or the other did not or cannot benefit from the formal school system. These include out-of-school youths, children in the street, women in purdah, victims of teenage motherhood, Nomadic illiterate people, Almajiris and other migrant fishing folks. The beneficiaries should be able to use the literacy skill acquired in their daily socio-economic activities.

When was the Commission established?

Decree No. 17 of June 26, 1990 (now Act No 18 of 2004), established the commission but it did not take off fully until July 5, 1991 when its Governing Board under the Chairmanship Chief A. Y. Eke was inaugurated in Lagos by the then Minister of Education, Professor Aliu Babatunde Fafunwa.

How is the Commission governed?

The Chief Accounting Officer of the commission is the Executive Secretary. He is appointed by the President and Commander- in- Chief of the arm forces on the recommendation of the Honourable Minister of Education. The commission is governed by the Governing Board, headed by a part-time Chairman. Six members of the Governing Board are politicians with each of them representing the six geo-political zones, while others are from universities and sister parastatals from Federal establishments and a representative of non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

What are the objectives of the Commission?

The broad objectives of the Commission are to:

  • Increase awareness on the importance of literacy and solicit for the participation and cooperation of all stake-holders in the task of making all Nigerians literate.
  • Develop literacy programmes with special attention to the disadvantaged groups such as women, the marginalised groups, rural dwellers and out-of-school children among others.




What are the functions of the Commission?

The Commission’s functions spelt out in the enabling decree and deriving from its objectives include:

  • Designing and promoting strategies and programmes for the implementation of Mass Literacy in line with the spirit of Education for All (EFA) and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
  • Monitoring and coordinating activities relating to national mass literacy campaign in order to ensure rapid and successful eradication of illiteracy in Nigeria.
  • Developing and disseminating learning materials in non-formal education programmes aimed at promoting literacy level amongst all the target groups.
  • Motivating and mobilizing people to participate in mass literacy, adult and non-formal education programmes.
  • Prescribing the strategies and methods for integrating Mass Literacy, Adult and Non-Formal Education for the purpose of being learners centred and to ensure increase in enrolment, completion and mainstreaming rates.


How is the Commission organised?

The Commission, apart from its headquarters in Abuja, has Zonal Offices in Ibadan, Minna, Bauchi, Katsina, Owerri, and Benin-city. It reaches out to the State Agencies for Mass Education (SAMEs) and Non-Governmental Organisations through the fore-mentioned. There is also under the Commission a National Centre for Mass Literacy located in Kano which serves as a documentation centre. This is often referred to as Kano Centre. The Centre is headed by an Acting Secretary.”

How does the Commission intend to go about executing its mandate?

The Commission realises that 46% of Nigerians are illiterate according to the 2006 National Population Census.  Having over 64 million illiterates out of Nigeria’s population of 140 million is not healthy for sustainable development. It is therefore necessary to give an accelerated impetus to the National Mass Literacy Campaign. The Commission is hoping that with the Federal Governments renewed efforts, it is expected that 10million Nigerians will be made literate annually for the next 12 years. A total of 200,000 facilitators will be trained for the purpose. We shall target at least 150,000 illiterates in each state of the federation per year. We expect to exceed this target given the multi-faced approaches. The Commission also plans to greatly increase the participation of women in illiteracy programmes as 60% of the illiterates in Nigeria are women and girls.

What are the strategies by which the Commission hopes to attain its objectives?

With the dwindling funds available the thrust of the Commission, efforts is to stimulate the Non-Governmental Agencies, Trade Unions, Philanthropists, Co-operatives etc, to get involved in Mass Literacy through volunteer work. Emphasis is also on the “Each-One-Teach-One” or “Fund –the-teaching-of-One” strategy. Training workshops are being mounted for facilitators on such approaches as the PRA/REFLECT, PLA, CAP-MM, STAR and Literacy by Radio to complement the traditional conventional classroom method. Training and retraining of facilitators will also be given priority to ensure efficiency at the grass-root level.

What do the strategies Each-One-Teach-One or Fund-the-Teaching-of-One, PRA/REFLECT, CAP-MM, STAR and Literacy by Radio mean?

Each-One-Teach-One is simply a strategy of one-on-one contact for the purpose of providing literacy to those who cannot read or write. If every literate Nigerian accepts to make at least one Nigerian able to read and write, this will be cost-effective and speedily address our illiteracy problem. In reality, not every literate Nigerian can do so for sundry reasons and therefore such Nigerians can provide the funds for literacy for those who need it as in the alternative “Fund-the-Teaching-of –One. CAP-MM is an initiative that means Catchment Area Programme Management and Monitoring and Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA), Participatory Learning and Action (PLA), Regenated Freirean Literacy through the Empowering of Community Technique. Stepping stones and REFLECT (STAR) are similar in the sense that they are Community-based, Community-driven and community-owned, all of which engender sustainability. Literacy by Radio is the teaching of reading and writing and calculation to Adults and Non-Formal Education Learners through the radio. It can be done in any language. It has many advantages which include:

  • One radio teacher can reach out to many learners at the same time.
  • Learners do not have to go to Learning centres before they can learn. They can even learn in their bedrooms.
  • One radio set can serve a family for the programme.

Everyone is expected by each of the above strategies to be an active agent in the Mass Literacy campaign either as a facilitator, teacher, learner or sponsor.


How does the Commission intend to arouse public interest in the programme?

The Commission is mounting a vigorous public enlightenment campaign using the Mass Media, National Orientation Agency (NOA), Government Public Enlightenment Units, Local Town-criers, and Publication of the in-house Journal (NMEC-Link). Traditional rulers, religious and opinions leaders are also being mobilized to generate public interest as well as get people involved in mass literacy activities.

How is the Commission funded?

The Commission is funded by the Federal Government. In funding the Commission, Government has demonstrated genuine commitment to the eradication of illiteracy in the country. However, government cannot do it alone in view of the enormous problem of eradicating illiteracy. The Commission is therefore reaching out to the International Development Partners (IDPs), Public-spirited individuals, etc. to supplement government funding efforts. The Office of the Senior Special Adviser to the President on the Millennium Development Goals (OSSAP-MDGs) has contributed so much to the commission’s success through DRG-MDG fund.

What is the role expected of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs)?

The NGOs are involved in stimulating public awareness of the programmes, setting up Literacy Centres, assist in enrolment drive, sensitization of people and promoting volunteerism. To this end, the Commission has brought together under one umbrella all NGOs involved in Mass Literacy in this country. The association is known by the acronym NOGALSS, which means Association for Literacy Support Services. Its present strength is about 60 NGOs and are still mobilizing others to join the body. Apart from the Literacy work being carried out by individual NGOs that registered in NOGALSS, they have embarked on joint literacy projects which Zonal and state branches are expected to replicate at the local government level. With the cooperation of the NYSC Directorate, the Commission has established an NYSC Literacy Volunteer Corps through which each year, Youth Corpers are mobilized to assist as instructors, trainers, or mobilizers. This campaign has also been taken to post primary schools with the formation of Schools Literacy Clubs. Also NMEC works closely with the National Council on Adult Education (NNCAE), which is the pioneer NGO in Mass Literacy to facilitate literacy delivery.

What is the relationship between NMEC and UBE?

Universal Basic Education in Nigeria is the first nine year schooling (Primary and Junior Secondary). Basic Education can be acquired through Formal, Non-Formal and Nomadic Education. This implies that Non-Formal Education (NFE) is the key component in Universal Basic Education.

Is there a deadline for the realization of the Commission’s objectives?

Although the commission was established as a statutory Government Parastatal, it is hoped that with the cooperation of all, the vast majority of the populace will have attained basic literacy by the year 2015. This is in line with the Jomtien and New Delhi EFA declarations both of which Nigeria was signatory to. With a population of about 60 million illiterates, Nigeria needs to redress this unpalatable situation through a multi-pronged approach. The label of being the third of nine most populous countries with the highest concentration of illiterates must be jettisoned. The challenge is to all Nigerians to please join hands with the National Commission for Mass Literacy, Adult, and Non-Formal Education to rid the country of illiteracy.

What is Literacy?

Ability to read, write and numerate (in any language) with understanding and being able to use the skill in one’s daily socio-economic activities.

What is Basic Literacy?

This is a literacy programme (reading, writing and computing) organized for the beginners or people considered to be stack illiterate. The language of instruction at this level is local language (mother tongue). In terms of sequence, lessons are often arranged in letters, identifications, vowels, consonants, words, sentences, passages etc. Basic Literacy is equivalent to primaries 1-3 in the formal sector. Technically, successful completers of this level are considered literate but not permanently literate as they may relapse to illiteracy without proceeding to the next level or using the skill in their daily socio-economically activities.

What is Post Literacy?

This is the next level after Basic Literacy. It is a literacy programme that is equivalent of primaries 4-6 standard. The language of instruction at this level is English Language. Amongst the subjects at this level are Integrated Science, Civics, Health Education, Local Language and Mathematics. The target groups are neo-literates that are considered to have mastered or completed basic literacy but want to continue learning. It can be regarded as second stage in non-formal education sector. Language of instruction is expected to be English Language.

What is Continuing Education?

This is the equivalent of Junior Secondary School and above and designed for people that want to sit for WAEC/NECO, External GCE or just for self- actualization. Some people sometimes refer to it as Remedial or Extra Mural Education.

What is Vocational Education?

This involves the learning of functional skills like sewing, knitting, candle making, soap making, ICT, etc with literacy. This may be combined with any literacy level above decided by the learner(s). It aims at promoting self-reliance through the income that the vocation will generate.

Who is a Neo-Literate?

An illiterate that has just been made literate or that has just successfully completed Basic Literacy.

Who is Early Learner/Drop Out?

A learner that withdraws from learning for one reason or the other before becoming literate/completing the programme.

Who is a Literate Person?

A literate person is the one that can read, write and numerate with understanding in one local language (mother tongue) and can use the skill in his/her daily socio-economic activities.

What are the differences between Formal Education, Non-Formal Education and Informal Education?

Formal Education:

This is a type Education received within the four walls of a school literacy or primary school, secondary school or tertiary institution. Formal Education has stereo-typed curriculum, time table and expected years of completion. The teachers in this sector are considered to be authority, all knowing and citadel of knowledge. The recipients are called pupils or students as the case may be.

Non-Formal Education:

This is the Education received outside the formal school system. It is organized, has curriculum and flexible time table with completion period based on the contact hours. The recipients are called learners and they are regarded as matured and experienced. Textbooks in this sector are called Primers as they are specifically written for easy assimilation. The place of learning is called Centre and not schools and they are often chosen or selected by the learners. The teachers in this sector are called Facilitators who are expected to have andragogical skills.

Informal Education:

This is teaching-learning that takes place without any written curriculum, time table or written text. An example is the way mothers teach children how to talk or speak a particular language. Another example is an education incidentally acquired by listening to a radio or television programme or by listening to a discussion. It may come up in other forms but common features are:-

  • Not often organized
  • No written curriculum or text books
  • Teacher and learner may not even know themselves;
  • No selected venue, centre or class etc

Adult Education:

This is any organized learning activity for people considered to be adults by the society. The criterion/criteria for the determination of the adulthood may be the Constitution, social responsibility, physical maturity, economic/social status or any other one. The learning activity gives priority to age or adulthood but the teaching-learning activity may be for literacy acquisition, skill acquisition or information dissemination in form of workshops, seminar or conference. The important thing it is meant for people considered to be adults by the society.

Mass Education:

Education that is provided for generality of people without age limit. The unique feature is that the teaching-learning activity is targeting both youth, adolescents, adults and any other persons that can no longer attend formal school. The programme may be basic literacy, post literacy, continuing education or vocational education.

Who is a Facilitator?

One who is in charge of a Centre and occupies the position of a teacher in the non-formal sector. He/she is responsible for assisting learners to learn. The facilitator must have the skill of teaching in non-formal education setting.

What do we mean by Mainstreaming?

Movement or transition of a learner from non-formal education sector to formal sector or vice versa at a qualified level or class of choice. An example is a learner that has completed primary six equivalent at non-formal education sector and joins formal sector at JSS class through common entrance or any stipulated criterion.

Who are the Special Need People?

These are physically challenged people, i.e. people with one disability or the other.

What do we mean by Traditional Class or Primer-Based Class?
This is a method where learners are taught with the same method a teacher in primary school is using. In this method, a Facilitator assists the learner either in basic literacy, post literacy or continuing education using chalkboard and primers (textbooks).

What is a Quaranic Education/Center?

This is a traditional Islamic Centre where learners (children, youths and adults) are taught Arabic Language and Islamic injunctions. In the northern part of the country, most of the learners in these Centres are Almajiris, i.e. migrant learners. Some of these Quranic Schools have agreed to integrate core subjects like English Language, Mathematics, Local Language and Social Studies into their curriculum while few others have not. Those that have agreed are referred to as “Integrated Quranic Centres. The core subjects integrated are sometimes referred to as western education.

What is Literacy Radio?

This is a method where learners learn basic literacy or post literacy using radio. Instead of a teacher being physically present with the learners, the radio teacher is in the Radio Station broadcasting the lesson. Learners listen to the Radio broadcast and act on the instruction of the Radio Teacher. They also obtain further assistance in learning from facilitators during face-to-face meetings.

What is Ajami Center/Literacy?

This is a part of basic literacy. It involves learning using Arabic Scripts (Learning Hausa Language but using letters borrowed from Arabic learning). It is being adopted because it is motivating to some target learners in the north.