The Executive Secretary of the Universal Basic Education (UBEC), Dr. Hamid Bobboyi, last weekend said the introduction of education programme, Jolly Phonics, aided the teaching of 144,000 teachers in Nigeria.
Jolly Phonics programme is a child-centered approach to teaching synthetic phonics which was introduced into Nigerian basic schools in 2006.
He stated that in collaboration with the Universal Learning Solutions (ULS), initiators of the programme, 5,755 UBEC, SUBEB and LGEA officials were trained while millions of children were empowered to read and write across the 36 states of the federation.
Speaking at an event to mark the 15th anniversary of the programme in Nigeria, Bobboyi affirmed that millions of children were empowered by Jolly Phonics.
According to him, "Since the inception of the Jolly Phonics programme in Nigeria, we are proud of the milestones recorded.
"In collaboration with Universal Learning Solutions (ULS), I am aware that 144,733 teachers, 5,755 UBEC, SUBEB, and LGEA officials have been trained and resourced, while millions of children are being empowered to read and write across the 36 states of the federation and FCT."
Bobboyi said the UBEC in 2012 entered into a partnership with Universal Learning Solutions (ULS), the organisers of the Jolly Phonics programme, at a time when the level of literacy was very low in the basic education sector.
"At the initial stage of engagement, the training was optional, only states interested in literacy held the training using the UBEC Teacher Professional Development (TPD) fund.
"Permit me to also reiterate that the commission, having found the Jolly Phonics programme relevant to its objective of improving literacy development of basic education learners, has over the years supported its inclusion in the basic education curriculum in basic schools across the 36 states of the federation and the FCT, while also ensuring that our teachers are trained and re-trained on the Jolly Phonics pedagogy to be able to effectively teach learners to read and write," he said.
In his remarks, the Executive Secretary of the National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE), Prof Paulinus Okwelle, said ULS, through Jolly Phonics, made significant contributions to literacy development in Nigeria in the past 15 years.
"As a key player in the training of teachers for the basic education level, the contribution of ULS to literacy development through its jolly phonics project cannot be elusive to the NCCE.
"As a matter of fact, ULS in its literacy campaign established and found for itself a niche. This is because, at a point when the consistent dwindling standards of literacy was almost becoming a nightmare, partly because the conventional methods and approaches are not interactive and learner-friendly in nature, the positive change of narrative by Jolly Phonics through its remarkable successes, came to reinstall the hope of many education stakeholders," he said.
Also, the Director of ULS, Mr. Patrick Uzu, recalled the journey that made the programme a reality.
He said: "How blessed we have been to serve humanity in such a way, working with so many inspirational people and organisations on the journey, as together, we grew Jolly Phonics from one school in a rural area in Akwa lbom State to the largest and most effective English literacy project in Africa."