10 Effects of Illiteracy on Nigeria National Development

In this article, we will look at the effects of Illiteracy on Nigerian National development. This article will be useful to students, researchers, and policy makers in the educational sector of the economy.

The literacy of of Nigeria is still low compared to other developing countries. According to UNESCO, the Nigerian literacy rate sits at 59.6%. This is very low compared to other African countries such as Botswana (88.5%), Zimbabwe (86.5%) and Ghana (76.6%).

10 Effects of Illiteracy on Nigeria National Development

What is Literacy ?

Literacy traditionally means  the ability to read and write. The modern term’s meaning has been expanded to include the ability to use language, numbers, images, computers, and other basic means to understand, communicate, gain useful knowledge, solve mathematical problems and use the dominant symbol systems of a culture

What is Illiteracy ?

In order to fully comprehend what our topic is aiming at, it would be worthwhile to define and explain the terms contained in the topic; this will give a preliminary understanding in regards to what to expect in our subsequent discussion.

Illiteracy is simply defined as the inability to write and read. National development has to do with the development of the nation (in this case Nigeria) as a whole.

It is a process of reconstruction and development in various dimensions of a nation as well as the development of individuals.

There are many adages, maxims, proverbs and slogans as regards to illiteracy. Some people describe it as the worst of all diseases of mankind.

The price of illiteracy can be very costly and sometimes fatal. Many dictionaries define illiteracy basically as the inability to read and write while some would go on to include inability to handle technological products, graphics etc.

What is National Development ?


National development also entails the improvement of the standard of living of its citizens. The development of a nation encapsulates:

(i) Development through a planned national economy

(ii) Increase in agricultural production through application of modern technical know-how

(iii) Harnessing industrial production

(iv) Development of human resource

(v) Application of science and technology in production sector

(vi) Provision of mass education

(vi) Provision of various facilities to meet the needs and aspirations of disadvantaged, deprived and poorest of the poor segments of population.

So, in a nutshell, our topic aims to sort out the effects illiteracy has on the development of Nigeria. These effects could either be in a positive or in a negative way.

Effects of Illiteracy on Nigeria National Development

1. Poverty

Illiterate people are known to be associated with low income jobs. Considering the current high cost of living in Nigeria with prices of food, clothing, shelter and even transportation increasing in an unbearable rate; illiterate people with family to cater for aside from them find it very difficult to cope.

Most times, when they are able to secure a job, due to their low skills, poor communication skills and low level of education, they end up losing their jobs to people of higher advantage. Since national development entails the harnessing of human resource, they provide little or no part to it.

2. Low standard of living

In sync with what was described in the first factor above, illiteracy confers low standard of living on an individual. A laborer depending on measly wages to support himself and family has to cut out some things and get his scale of preference right and good in order to survive.

A low income earner with children in school which he has to support and feed will undoubtedly experience a low standard of living. Low standard of living entails that he or she will struggle to get by each day and people who are struggling does not have much to spare which will contribute to national development.

3. Increase in crime rate

It would be a fallacious statement to say that all illiterates are criminals. In fact, it would be what is termed fallacy of hasty generalization.

Not all illiterates are involved in crimes and not all illiterates involved in crime do so volitionally. As often said that ignorance of the law is not an excuse.

Illiterates who are not well informed find theirselves caught in an incriminating situation. An illiterate person who is unable to read the written warning against packing on a restricted area ends up getting arrested or sued for the trespass.

It is also credible when an illiterate earning measly amount of money amounts to arm robbery, kidnapping, rituals or other sorts of social vices just to supplement his or her low income. Although the aim is to liberate the family from poverty or send the children to school; the means is not justifiable by law.

4. Increased incarceration rate

Incarceration or imprisonment is something that can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere irrespective of social status or educational level. Imprisonment is justifiable when one commits a crime knowingly.

The judge does not accept ignorance as an excuse for deviance. He or she dishes the appropriate punishment equal to the weight of the crime committed to the guilty one. Illiterates who are ignorant of these laws and end up breaking them get sent to jail alike.

5. Increase in cases of child marriage

It is not easy for an illiterate parent to send their offspring to school. This requires some serious amount of persuasion and enlightenment if it must come to pass. What they often consider is marriage, infant betrothal and forced marriage.

Although these cases are now rare in the modern world but they still happen. Parents may fail to recognize the benefits of taking children to school to learn how to read and write. Instead, the girl child may be forced into early marriage.

Some parents may even foresee it as a means of raising money through dowry payments to support the rest of the family members. In a way, the girl child is viewed as a property which can be traded to help the family make ends meet.

6. Increase in drug and alcohol abuse level

Illiteracy can also weigh psychological war on the individual mostly in form of low self-esteem, lack of confidence, depression and anxiety. Poverty can also be viewed as a function of this factor. A poor man will have much to worry about and in a bid to forget about their worries and life challenges resort to drug use and alcohol intake.

Continuous drug and alcohol use leads to addiction and this also adds to his or her financial burden since a huge percent of the income will now be spent on drug and alcohol.

7. Increase in the level of unemployment

Securing a good job requires ability to read, write and communicate in English too. Illiterates find it difficult to secure this high demanding job and as such, increase the number of unemployed youths roaming the country.

8. Poor health and increased mortality rate.

It is often said that if you are not informed, you are deformed. To be informed, you must read books and comprehend teachings. Illiteracy has the capability to cost life. A person who is unable to read may not be able to read the cautionary message on certain things such as drug and foods.

He or she may not be able to access and benefit from the information on how to stay healthy published by various health organizations. Also, they may not know when their use of a particular substance such as alcohol and cigarette starts becoming toxic to their body.

9. Risk of inter-generational illiteracy

Just like an illiterate parent prefers getting her daughter married instead of sending her to school, the illiterate daughter may also adopt the same practice when she has her own family and thus practice same.

In this way, the issue of illiteracy can cut across generations within a family. It can become cyclic in such a way that even the third or fourth generation family members suffer the same fate.

Inter-generational Illiteracy mainly comes about because education is given little to no value in the family setup. The children that come along will thus see illiteracy as the norm and not make any effort to learn how to read and write.

10. Illiteracy impedes the rate of national development

Instead of the government thinking and working on how to move the country forward, they will also be disturbed by the level of illiteracy in the nation thus making provisions to curb it by channeling the resources meant for other things into it.

This is seen the case of free education, establishment of empowering programs, provision of financial help and others.

In a recap, all these factors put together contribute negatively to the development of Nigeria.

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Patrick Okon

Patrick Okon is a content developer at InfoGuide Nigeria is a team of Resource Persons and Consultants led by Ifiokobong Ibanga. Page maintained by Ifiokobong Ibanga. If you need a personal assistance on this topic, kindly contact us.

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