Claim: Representing the Minister of Education, Mr Adamu Adamu, at the 2018 International Literacy Day celebration in Kano, Mr Prinzo James, Deputy Director, Basic and Secondary Education, Ministry of Education, claimed that 60 million Nigerian youths and adults are illiterate; of which 60% are female, and 11 million are out-of school.
Evidence: Mr Prinzo’s figure contradicts Nigeria’s illiteracy rate reported by the CIA. His figure of 60 million is way more than the 80 million quoted by the Agency. Also, the NBS’s figure of illiterate Nigerians of 70 million is more than Prinzo’s reported figure. In fact, the number of out-of-school children isn’t 11 million as he said; it is 13.2 million according to UNICEF.
Out-of-school children not 11 million
Out-of-school children, according to the UN, are children aged between 6-11, who are yet to enroll in any formal education — excluding pre-primary education. Although, some of these children might have had pre-primary education but dropped out, or might enroll in the future or never enroll at all.
So it is these children Mr Prinzo puts their number at 11 million. But then, his figure, once again, isn’t right. There is no available and verifiable source that suggests that Prinzo’s claim is nearly true.
If he is wrong, what then what would have been the correct figure to quote? 13.2 million? No.
This figure (13.2 million) has been well reported in the media, and it has been a misconception ever since. This figure had been attributed to Ahmed Boboyi, the Executive Secretary of Universal Board of Education Commission (UBEC) who was represented by the Director of Social Mobilisation, Bello Kaigara, at the Northern Nigerian Traditional Rulers Conference on Out-of-School Children pre-conference briefing in Abuja last year October.
Kaigara referenced his figure on the Demographic Health Survey (DHS) which he claimed was conducted in 2015 by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and the Nigerian government. However, UNICEF has dissociated itself from ever conducting such survey.
So, even if Prinzo had quoted what is almost becoming common knowledge, he would still have been wrong.
Nevertheless, here’s what is right:
The Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS5) of 2016/2017 conducted by the NBS and UNICEF and published in 2018 shows that 9.1 million children are out-of-school.
Unlike the UN definition of out-of-school children which doesn’t include those in pre-school, this NBS survey defines out-of-school children as those out-of-school and those attending pre-school.
If this figure is to be reviewed to suit the UN definition of out-of-school children, it simply means Nigeria’s out-of-school children would stand at 7.2 million. Hence, depending on the definition used, 9.1 million or 7.2 million would be correct, and what is even alarming is that it is still the highest anywhere in the world!
While the definition of “youths and adults” as stated by Mr Prinzo is not clearcut, his figure contradicts reports from the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Bureau of Statistics; same as his out-of-school children figure of 11 million which cannot be accrued to any verifiable source.
The CIA figure for illiterate Nigerians aged 15 and above is 80 million. Likewise, the 2018 publication of the National Bureau of Statistics titled “Statistical Report on Women and Men in Nigeria” puts illiterate Nigerians within ages 15-24 at 14 million.
Either ways, Prinzo’s 60 million figure is in sharp contrast with the above figures.
Also, while Prinzo’s 11 million claim of out-of-school children has no verifiable source, the widely reported 13.2 million said to have been made by UNICEF has been denied by the organization. Rather, according to NBS, the nation’s out-of-school children are 9.1 million.
Mr James Prinzo’s claims are therefore rated false.