With an audience of more than 20 million people throughout Nigeria, VOA’s Hausa service finds success with educational and health programming, as well as journalism training and town halls…
By Joan Mower
BBG Office of Strategy and Development
ABUJA, NIGERIA — Education is a top priority in Nigeria where VOA’s popular Hausa Service has launched a new weekly program dedicated to covering a broad spectrum of educational topics.
Nagiri na Kowa (an educated person is always an asset) began in late November, reaching millions of Hausa speakers across the country. This month, VOA’s education reporters gathered in Abuja for Education Stakeholders Consultative Forum where national and international leaders pledged to support educational initiatives in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country.
“Education is a top priority for our listeners,” said Leo Keyen, chief of VOA’s Hausa Service in Washington. “They all want to the best information and news about education — for themselves and their children.”
In Abuja, Sagir Adama Abbas, special assistant to the Nigerian Minister of Education, told more than 50 local government education officials that the government was committed to seeing improvements in schools. The forum was sponsored by USAID, which also supports VOA’s education program. USAID has set a goal of helping improve reading standards in Nigeria where primary education is compulsory, but reading remains challenging for many students.
“There is a big gap between the haves and the have nots in Nigeria,” said USAID Dana Mansuri at the forum. She said up to one-third of Nigeria’s students are under-performing – with girls at the greatest risk. Mansuri said USAID would work with the Nigerian government to “improve the basic education system” in the country.
International donors also attended the forum where the Global Partnershp for Education, a multilateral consortium based in Washington, said it planned to spend $100 million on education in Nigeria in coming years.
VOA’s education reporters, who are using iPhones to report their stories, attended a training session prior to the forum where they engaged in a discussion of new technologies and standards for covering educational issues. “We need to get stories from the parents as well as the teachers,” said Maryam Atto Mohammed, one of the journalists. “Parents play a large role in the education of their children.”
Haladu Mohammed of USAID’s health team told the reporters that reading is the building block of all education. “If you cannot read, how can you gain knowledge?” he asked.
VOA’s new education program is the latest addition to a strong lineup of Hausa news and information programs broadcast to Nigeria and neighboring countries.
In Nigeria, VOA reaches more than 20 million people every week in Hausa. The English to Africa service adds even more to the audience total.