The Vice-Chancellor of Covenant University, Professor Abiodun Adebayo has charged Higher Institutions in Nigeria to address the need for real and virtual learning spaces, to encourage the continuation of active learning, beyond the formal classroom setting.

He gave this charge during his opening remarks at the 2022 World Literacy Day, organized by the Covenant University Community Impact Initiative Committee (CU-CDIIC), with the theme, ‘Transforming Literacy Learning Spaces.’ He stated that the World Literacy Day was established in 1966 by a proclamation of UNESCO, with the aim to remind people about the importance of literacy in terms of respect and human rights.

The celebration of the day, he said, was to raise awareness and concern for literacy problems at the national and global levels, while discussions about the agenda of building a more literate society are undertaken.

According to Professor Adebayo, “Fresh thoughts about altering existing learning spaces offer a major chance for educational institutions to make teaching and learning more effective. Since the central mission of schools is to provide life-transforming education, learning and the places where it occurs are very critical. Therefore, learning places must be designed to optimize the convergence of learners, existing learning theory, and information technology.”

He pointed out that Literacy is a key skill and a key measure of a population’s education and from a historical perspective, literacy levels for the world population have risen drastically in the last couple of centuries. While only 12% of the people in the world could read and write in 1820, he said, today the share has reversed: only 14% of the world population, in 2016, remained illiterate.

Quoting a report by UNESCO, he stated that there are still 773 million illiterate adults around the world, most of whom are women, and of the world population, older than 15 years, 86% are literate. Globally however, he said that large inequalities remain, notably between sub-Saharan Africa and the rest of the world, while in Burkina Faso, Niger and South Sudan – the African countries at the bottom of the rank – literacy rates are still below 30%.

Bringing it home, he added that Nigeria’s literacy rate in 2018 was 62.02%, a 10.94% increase from 2008; noting that the highest literacy rates are in the Southern Regions, which also has the lowest percentage difference between male and female literacy rates, and specifically, in 2018, the male urban literacy rate was 86.4%; the rural rate 59.5%; the female urban rate was 74%; the female rural rate was 35.4%.

He further explained, “In recent times, educational institutions have emphasized classrooms as the basic space where learning takes place. Ancillary learning spaces in schools include the library, laboratory, and faculty office (for individual mentoring). However, increasingly, the virtual space is being incorporated into the classroom and other physical locations as a locus for learning. Consequently, there is a need to broaden our concept of learning spaces.”

“The notion of learning spaces should include platforms that enable teachers to display course content and allow learners access to learning materials outside the classroom. Learning spaces need to provide instructors and students with interactive tools that empower knowledge exploration. Therefore, educational institutions must address the need for real and virtual learning spaces to encourage the continuation of active learning beyond the formal classroom.”

He also used the platform to appeal to the Federal Government of Nigeria to do all it can to ensure that the ongoing strike of the Academic Staff Union of Nigerian Universities (ASUU) is called off as soon as possible; stating that the students and their guardians are adversely affected by the ongoing strike.

Earlier in her remarks, the Chairman, Covenant University Community Impact Initiative Committee (CU-CDIIC), Dr. Tayo George, stated that in one of the past CUDIIC events in commemoration of the World Literacy Day, CUDIIC donated a new set of laboratory equipment to Unity High school, Oke-Ore,  Atan Community, in Ota and renovated the school’s laboratory and this clearly shows that Covenant University has its heart in wellbeing of the Community it has found itself and that also validates the vision.

She stated that one of the activities to mark the World Literacy Day, include a handwriting competition both for the pupils and the teachers present and a host of other activities.

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