March 9, 2016

RANA Project: Dealing with the core issues in Mother tongue literacy

Written by Robert Chiegil -Acting Country Director FHI360 Nigeria

Nigerian students in a classroom

“In rana ta fito, tafin hannu ba ya tare ta,”

– When the sun shines, no hand can hide the glow!

Alhaji Nuhu Abdulkadir, Kauran Katsina

Reading and Numeracy skills among children aged 6-8 in Katsina and Zamfara States North Western Nigeria; has been challenged by a UNICEF study which espoused that about 50% of primary 5 pupils (Grade 6) in Zamfara State could not identify the right orientation to position a reader and 73.5 per cent cannot read one word in a short sentence. Faced by these abysmal figures, and with the resolve to improve mother-tongue reading; key stakeholders reached a consensus to deal with this problem from its root. An initiative to promote reading in mother tongue (Hausa language) from primaries 1-3 was accepted as a novel solution that could transform the quality of education in the States. Studies have shown that when an early grade child learns to read in the mother tongue, school attendance as well as transition to reading in English improves significantly. Lack of teacher’s professional development and materials for teaching and learning in Hausa language were some of the core issues identified for the poor reading capacity. Other barriers identified include; low community awareness and participation, and weak policy environment that supports early grade teaching and learning in Hausa language. Speaking passionately about these factors, key speakers at the RANA program launch did not mince words in noting the time to act is now. Energized with passion for children education particularly the girl child, Her Excellency, Hajiya Asmau Abdul’azeez Yari Abubakar the Wife of the Executive Governor of Zamfara State, stressed that education is a fundamental precursor to modernization and civilization! Thus, only the educated are able to match the fast speed of change in the modern world. Citing herself as an example, she said early grade reading positioned her for later successes in her education and influenced her quality of life.

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