The Universal Basic Commission, UBEC has applauded an education-centred non governmental organisation, Universal Learning Solutions, USL for the innovation, Jolly Phonics it has deployed in ensuring that children learn to read and write with minimal challenge at an early stage.
Speaking in Abuja on Tuesday at an event to mark the fifteenth anniversary of ULS, the Executive Secretary of UBEC, , Dr. Hamid Bobboyi said Jolly Phonics programme which is a fun and child-centred approach to teaching synthetic phonics has since its introduction into the Nigerian basic school in 2006 become a veritable tool that makes teaching interesting.
Dr. Bobboyi who was represented by Obasi Patience of Teachers Development Department noted that since UBEC in 2012 entered into a partnership with Universal Learning Solutions, the organisation has through its Jolly Phonics programme helped in improving literacy development of basic education learners, adding that the Commission has supported in inclusion of the programme in basic across the country.
“In the year 2015, based on the reports from the UBEC field officers in the States, where the training were conducted, the UBEC management included Jolly Phonics as a mandatory training in the TPD. So far the federal government using the TPD funds has trained P1-P3 teachers in Basic Education Sub-sector.
“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 retrained on the Jolly Phonics pedagogy to be able to effectively teach learners to read and write.
“Let me say I personally find the Jolly Phonics pedagogy interesting and enjoyable. Its approaches are stimulating and enriching, it combines a range of teaching methodology that effortlessly allows learners associate learning with fun. You will agree with me that while we have to ensure that our learners in basic schools learn to read and write with little or no supervision, we equally have to make learning fun for them; hence, Jolly Phonics provides such opportunity” he said.
The Executive Secretary also commended ULS for the feat it has achieved over the years and for working with the Commission to achieve the UBE goals, noting that the learner will not be able to make meaningful contributions to the society without being able to read and write.
The Executive Secretary, National Commission for Colleges of Education, NCCE, Prof. Paulinus Chijoke Okwelle in his remarks applauded the contribution of ULS to literacy development through its Phonics project, noting that it has introduced an interactive and learner-friendly approach to achieve significant success to raise future leaders who can contribute to the development of their society.
Represented by the Head, Early Grade Reading, Mr. Razaq Adeyemi Badmus, Executive Secretary said, “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.”
Founders of ULS, a couple Gary and Naomi Foxcroft expressed gratitude for the success the Jolly Phonics has achieved in the last 15 years.
Going memory lane, the couple recalled how the project which started at a rural school in Akwa on 2006 grew to become the largest and most effective English literacy project in Africa through the collaboration of inspirational individuals and groups.
The couple who were represented by the Country Director ULS, Mr. Patrick Uzu expressed happiness that Jolly Phonics project in Nigeria has inspired the philanthropy behind its expansion to a further 22 countries in Africa and Asia, acting as a beacon of hope that brighter times may be ahead.
Mr. Uzu noted that the impact of this programme on the literacy skills of the pupils in public schools has been very encouraging.
He expressed the readiness of the organisation to sustain the impact it has made in the 36 states of the federation and FCT in ensuring that pupils are able to read and study on their own.
According to Mr. Uzu, ULS has also trained no fewer than 150,000 teachers nationwide for this project, targeting 10 million children.
He said early childhood development which seeks to catching them young equips the pupils with skills to read, understand, and write before they get to primary four.
Mr. Uzu while highlighting the issues of teachers transfer as well as unavailability of reading resources as major challenges of the project expressed gratitude to UBEC for making available workbook for smooth running of the programme, adding that more is still needed.
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