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This study investigated the comparative study of the implementation of adult literacy programmes in Ghana and Nigeria. A descriptive survey research design was adopted for the study. Five research questions were posed for the study. Five research hypotheses were also posed for the study. Using the random sampling technique a total of 300 instructors were used for the study. A structural questionnaire was used for data collection. The reliability coefficient of 0.86, 0.85, 0.87, 0.90 and 0.92 with a grand mean of 0.97 were obtained using cronbach alpha method of determining internal consistency of the instrument while one expert in Adult Education, one in measurement and evaluation and one expert in comparative and international education carried out face validation of the instrument. Five research questions were answered using mean and standard deviation while the five hypotheses which guided the study were tested at 0.05 level of significance using the t-test statistics. It was found that the planning of adult literacy programme is slightly higher in Nigeria than in Ghana, that physical resources employed in the implementation of adult literacy programme is higher in Nigeria than in Ghana, that there is more financing of  adult literacy programme in Ghana than in Nigeria, that the involvement of human resources in the implementation of adult literacy programme is higher or greater in Nigeria than in Ghana and that the level of political-will is higher in Nigeria than in Ghana. It was however recommended that the planning subsystem should be intensified, more physical resources should be utilized, financing should be increased, provision of capacity building should be encouraged and government political-will should be intensified.



Background of the Study

          The history of reading and writing could be traced to ancient Egyptians who discovered the art of writing. This art of writing spread to other parts of the world. Today, it has become part of man’s civilization. In this present era of globalization, literacy is the key to progress. The ability to read, write and do computation makes one a modern man in the sense that he can communicate.

          This ability to communicate in any language makes a person to be regarded as being literate. In many countries of the world, many people miss formal education at the early stage of their lives. The category of those who cannot read, write and compute is regarded as the state of being illiterate. An illiterate according to Ezema (2008) is “the state of lack of skills of reading, writing and arithmetic” (p.2). Therefore, it means that anybody who cannot read, write and do computation in any language is regarded as being a stark illiterate.

          Illiteracy, ill-health and powerlessness make individuals passive observers even in issues that concern them (Obi, 2006:5). Obi  (2006) went further to point out that the emphasizes on basic education for children and functional literacy for adults is based on, the fact that education and training are the major means of self development and empowerment” (p.3). Louis (1968) in Obi (2006) states that “education is the single most vital force in combating poverty, powerlessness, abuse of human rights, dictatorship as well as the degradation of the environment” (p.3).

          Basic education which has literacy and numeracy as core components is a fundamental right of every individual. Literacy and numeracy skills are essential in any strategy for poverty reduction as these skills help the poor to extricate themselves from the conditions that cause poverty (Lauglo, 2009:4). Furthermore, literacy is a vital starting point in the long process of education and training. Hence Article 26 of Universal Declaration of Rights 1948 stipulates that education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality.

          Literacy for adults should not be sought after, just to enable them acquire certificates for paid jobs. It should be acquired so that the adults become fully developed, empowered and active citizens (Obi, 2006:10). Literacy for adults should be pursued for its intrinsic value. Lack of literacy and numeracy skills by adults constitutes for them barriers to entrepreneurship and market transactions.

          The word literacy overlaps with the field of adult education. Literacy is defined as the ability to read and write in any language with understanding and comprehension. Literacy is also about the acquisition and use of reading, writing and numeracy skills, and thereby the development of active citizenship, improved health and livelihoods, and gender equality (Aitchison & Alidou, 2009). The adult literacy rate for Nigeria is 71.6% and 79.3% for Ghana as at the year 2010.

          Literacy programs have been conducted in Ghana and Nigeria based on twelve international adult literacy benchmarks. These benchmarks are the use of reading, writing and numeracy skills, a ratio of at least one facilitator to thirty learners and one trainer/supervisor to fifteen learner groups, active choice about the language in which they learn, use of a wide range of participatory methods, governments responsibility of a wide variety of materials suitable for new readers, and 3% of annual total budget of the countries for literacy programmes and 3% of their national educational sector budgets to adult literacy programmes.

          One of the main aims of UNESCO is ensuring that everyone in the world has free access to education and must be able to read and write especially in the language of his or her environment. This study is premised on the fact that the rate of adult illiteracy is still very high despite the efforts of UNESCO and the federal governments of Ghana and Nigeria. UNESCO has, since 1946, started adult literacy programmes which specifically focused on the development of adult education and adult literacy as influenced and inspired by the historican contexts of each country (Hinzen, 2000).

          Mass literacy campaigns were done in Ghana and Nigeria not only to sensitize the stark illiterate people towards becoming literate but to wipe out illiteracy in the countries as a policy. Literacy began and continued to be a major international issue recognized as a crucial element for the economic and political viability of both developing and industrialized nations. Literacy is one of the fundamental requirements of modern civilization because the functional significance of a people’s ability to read and write depends on it. There is no doubting the fact that a nation needs about 40% literacy level among its citizens for sustained economic growth as well as social-political benefits and sustainable democracy. In colonial Ghana and Nigeria, more than half the population were not prepared for productive existence. This was one of the factors why the colonial office decided to launch Mass Literacy Campaigns in the two countries. Although, between 1949, and 1960, UNESCO has put in place strategies to promote adult education for all nations, the impact was never seriously felt at this period in Ghana and Nigeria.

          There was a consistent increase in adult illiteracy because there was no follow-up by the colonial governments to re-launch mass literacy campaigns in the two countries. The struggle of individual African states to wipe out illiteracy received an external boost with the holding of the first regional conferences on policy and co-operation in 1961 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The Addis Ababa conference was followed closely by a second one in Abidjan, Coted’Ivoire in 1964, a third one in Nairobi, Kenya in 1968, a fourth one in Lagos, Nigeria in 1976 and a fifth one in Harare, Zimbabwe in 1983 (Omagbemi, 1985). All these UNESCO organized conferences had serious impacts on the literacy situation of the countries in the sub-region. In Ghana and Nigeria, and in the light of the experiments conducted over the past 39 years, on literacy and activities related to it, the high institutions began purposeful researches into, and pilot projects training instructors for adult basic and functional literacy programmes in Ghana and Nigeria, thus, the need for a comparative study on the implementation of adult literacy programmes in Ghana and Nigeria.  

          Ghana and Nigeria have a large army of stark illiterates and out-of-school population whose productive activities and lives are severely limited by their state of illiteracy (Obi, 2006:72). This is why Nigeria is rated among the ten most illiterate nations in the world (Ramante, 2000:4). Ramante states that illiteracy in Nigeria is much higher now than it was on the eve of independence in 1960. This assertion was supported by Ibrahim (2003) when he said that “Nigeria accepted the offer of World Bank Analytical Fast Track Initiative because she was considered as one of the nine countries with the largest number of out-of-school population (p.6).

          Furthermore, Achers (2004) states that “the 2003 Federal Ministry of Education and UNESCO baseline study put the population of out-of-school children in Nigeria at 7.3 million” (p. 6). In this third millennium, it is right and proper that every citizen should be enabled to acquire functional literacy skills.

          An effective functional literacy education for adults in Ghana and Nigeria is an ideal whose time has come. Nigeria established the National Agency for Mass Education (NMEC) with Decree No.26 of 1990 with State Mass Education Agency in all the 36 states of the Federation and Abuja. Hence, every adult living in Nigeria should be encouraged to learn to read and write. The National Functional Literacy Programme (FLP) in Ghana was established to provide literacy education (National Report of Ghana, 2006).

          Adult literacy programmes began in Ghana and Nigeria in 1940 by the Departments of Education often in collaboration with the District officers, school teachers, various Christian and Muslim denominational leaders and traditional rulers. Planning committees on every centre often consisted of the Ministry of Education Official, the traditional rulers, the Travelling Teacher, the mass education officer, sometimes, the Agricultural officer, and as a rule officials of the Native Administration (Omolewa, 1981). The committee decision on the number of centres to be established initially, the number of instructors to be employed, their remuneration, the time table and facilities available.

          Furthermore, usually, the Mass Education Officer prepared a scheme with the budget and forwarded this to the provincial secretariats. These schemes were usually sent to the Mass Education Officer in Lagos who in turn presented them for consideration by the Director of Education (Omolewa, 1981).  Teachers were recruited from the village and city schools, District and Native Administration and from 1955 the board of ex-servicemen.    

          The choice of Ghana and Nigeria as the area of study is predicated on the fact that they share similar characteristics. For instance, the two countries have the greatest number of adult literacy programme study centres when compared with other countries in the West African Sub-region. Expectedly, the two countries are supposed to have reasonably higher students enrolment relative to other countries in the sub-region. Unfortunately, available evidence shows that the population of adult literacy learners in the two countries is not commensurate with the  number of centres existing in the two countries (Omolewa, 1981).

Statement of the Problem

          The history of adult literacy as portrayed in the two countries indicates that various attempts made to eradicate the illiteracy have not been successful. The failure of adult literacy programmes in Ghana and Nigeria have been attributed to many factors, such as poor planning, physical resources, financing, human resources and political-will. This is why in recent times, international workshops and seminars have been organized on problems of planning, physical resources, financing, human resources and political-will of literacy programmes. The Ghana and Nigeria governments at various levels, the Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs), the Churches and Civil Society Organizations have been engaged in the provision of adult literacy programmes in Ghana and Nigeria (UNICEF, 2000).

          Consequently, not much information on the activities of the governments of Ghana and Nigeria, Non-Governmental Organization (NGOs), Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), the mosques, Churches and International Non-Governmental Organizations are available on the extent of implementation on adult literacy programmes in Ghana and Nigeria (Okeem, 1982). On the other hand, the governments of Ghana and Nigeria lay claims on the successes achieved in the areas of adult literacy programmes.

          Against this background, the problem of this study was to find out the implementation of adult literacy programmes in Ghana and Nigeria.

Purpose of the Study

          The general purpose of the study was to compare the planning and implementation of adult literacy programmes in Ghana and Nigeria. Specifically, the study was intended to: 

1.  determine the extent of planning in adult literacy programme in Ghana and Nigeria.

2.  determine the financing of adult literacy programmes in Ghana and Nigeria;

3.  determine the human resources involved in adult literacy programmes in Ghana and Nigeria;

4.  identify the physical resources used in the implementation of adult literacy programmes in Ghana and Nigeria; and  

5.  find out the level of political-will deployed for the success of adult literacy programmes in Ghana and Nigeria.


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