The Executive Secretary of the Universal Basic Education (UBEC), Dr Hamid Bobboyi has said that the introduction Jolly Phonics Education Programme has aided the teaching of 144,000 teachers in Nigeria.
The Jolly Phonics program, which began in Nigerian primary schools in 2006, is a child-centered approach of teaching synthetic phonics.
He claimed that 5,755 UBEC, SUBEB, and LGEA officials were taught in partnership with Universal Learning Solutions (ULS), the program’s initiators, while millions of youngsters were enabled 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.
“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, whilst millions of children are being empowered to read and write across the 36 States of the federation and FCT”, he said.
Bobboyi stated that the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) in the year 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, whilst 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.
“Today, with this onerous intervention in literacy, many of our school managers at the primary level are beginning to rejoice and boast of young learners who, on graduation, can read and write effectively, thus empowering and setting them on the path that will allow these future leaders of tomorrow to be able to contribute meaningfully in resolving challenges which directly affect them”, he said.
A joint speech released from Portugal by the founders of the programme, Gary and Naomi Foxcroft, said the project which started in Akwa Ibom State had reached 22 countries in Africa and Asia.
Going down memory lane, the duo, whose speech was presented by the Country Director, ULS, Mr. Patrick Uzu, recalled the journey that made the programme a reality.
“How blessed we have been to serve humanity in such a way, working with so many inspirational people and organisations along the journey, as together we grew Jolly Phonics from one school in rural Akwa lbom State to the largest and most effective English literacy project in Africa.
“Amongst the troubling times in which we have been living, the story of Jolly Phonics in Nigeria and how this inspired the philanthropy behind its expansion to a further 22 countries in Africa and Asia, acts as a beacon of hope that brighter times may be ahead.
“The world needs more stories like this one and so many incredible people have played a part in this since we carried out the first pilot of Jolly Phonics in Akwa lbom State back in 2006. We thank God for sending these angels our way over the years”, he said.