The Executive Secretary of the Universal Basic Education (UBEC), Dr Hamid Bobboyi, says that the introduction of education programme, Jolly Phonics, aided the teaching of 144,000 teachers in Nigeria.

Jolly Phonics programme which is a child-centered approach to teaching synthetic phonics 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.

The UBEC head was speaking at an event to mark the 15th anniversary of the programme in Nigeria.

He said “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.”

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.

He revealed that 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.

He added 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 teachers are trained and re-trained on the jolly phonics pedagogy to be able to effectively teach learners to read and write.

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.

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.

The duo, whose speech was presented by the Country Director, ULS, 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,” he said.

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