The Federal Ministry of Education says cooperative societies are key to reversing the increasing rate of non-literates in the country, especially among adult learners.
Hajia Binta Abdulkadir, Director, Basic and Secondary Education, made the observation at the inaugural meeting to include adult skill learners for Financial Empowerment through the Non-governmental Association for Literacy Support Services (NOGALSS) in Abuja.
Abdulkadir commended NOGALSS for its zeal to assist Nigeria to achieve its target literacy level by empowering adult learners through cooperative.
“The role of literacy in a nation’s development cannot be overemphasised, particularly for a developing nation like Nigeria.
“Literacy being a basic human right and an important key for human development, especially the basic literacy and numeracy skills.
“The definition of literacy has broadened to include a wide range of several other skills.
“This is as against the traditional bench mark of reading and writing in English language to incorporate skills like proficiency in computer applications, ability to read and write in any language, to mention a few,’’ she said.
Abdulkadir said that one known fact for illiteracy was poverty occasioned by inability to access funds for economic activities.
She added that through this cooperative, adult learners would have access to funds for their financial self-reliance and economic advancement
Prof. Abba Haladu, Executive Secretary National Commission for Mass Literacy Adult and Non-Formal Education (NMEC), said that the move to empower adult education learners was apt.
Haladu represented by Mrs Nnenna Ejieji, Assistant Director, NMEC, said this was because of the challenges bedevilling the country like illiteracy, poverty, unemployment and lack of funds for graduates of skill acquisition centres.
He said that the empowerment would reduce poverty, create employment among other benefits, adding that the commission would continue to partner with NOGALSS.
Mr Noah Emmanuel, National President NOGALSS, said that the cooperative and NMEC forged a common front for financial empowerment of all adult skill learners in the Federal Capital Territory.
Emmanuel said that the partnership was with the knowledge that it was not enough to make people literate but there was need to see to their financial self-reliance by solving unemployment.
He said that the cooperative applied for three billion naira from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) but was looking at increasing the amount to seven billion due to its membership strength.
He said that the data and capturing of members was ongoing across the country, adding that the essence of this loan was to help all members to be financially self-reliant and employers of labour.
Mr Usman Umar, NOGALSS’ consultant to CBN on financial aspect said CBN already had a door called development finance, there was anchor ,there was commercial agriculture and there was targeted facility and post COVID-19 loans.
Umar said that those who could benefit were small and medium enterprises and households, adding that households could take from N2.5 million to N100,000, so even a shoe shiner could apply.
He however, said that civil servants were not entitled to such loans because they were not allowed to do business in service.
He said that civil servants could access the agriculture loans because they were encouraged to go into farming.
He said that the agriculture loan was available at the agriculture desk of all commercial banks with a cheap interest rate of oAne digit meaning as low as five to six per cent interest rate.
Mr Emmanuel Atama, Executive Secretary of the National Cooperative Financing Agency of Nigeria (CFAN), encouraged civil servants to join cooperatives and mobilise themselves to access loans for housing purposes and to meet other needs.
Atama said that this was important because cooperatives help civil servants to save money which would be of great benefit to them when they retire because the money usually came handy before their gratuity.