SHOCKING: NMEC, Nigeria’s mass literacy agency has no website

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The National Mass Literacy, Adult and Non-Formal Education Commission (NMEC) has no website.

This agency has the responsibility of making literate all those who for one reason or the other did not or could not benefit from the formal school system.

NMEC is among the 24 parastatals under the Federal Ministry of Education. Unlike most of its counterparts, EduCeleb.com found that NMEC does not have a functional website.

Established under Decree 17 of 1990, the agency has the duties of developing policies and strategies aimed at eradicating illiteracy in Nigeria.

It is also meant to monitor and standardise the implementation of Mass Literacy delivery in Nigeria while networking with local and international stakeholders to achieve that.

NMEC was equally designed to “produce neo-literates that are self-reliant through skill acquisition and functional literacy.”

Among possible beneficiaries of the agency’s programmes are out-of-school youths, children in the street, women in purdah, victims of teenage motherhood, and nomadic illiterate people.

The role of the agency is also identified in the National Policy on Education 2013 in regulating and providing adult and mass literacy to the public.

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2011 mandates government agencies to “make public records and information more freely available” through various means, including print, electronic and online sources, and at the offices of such public institutions.

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It also stated that a defaulting officer or institution that is established to be withholding access to information was liable on conviction to a fine of N500,000.

Way back machine screenshot of the defunct NMEC website

Once had a website

At some point in time, NMEC had a website but that was short lived.

A check by EduCeleb.com using the Wayback machine showed that the web address, http://nmec-ng-gov.org/ once belonged to the federal agency.

The online archive medium was able to capture activities on the now defunct website between 23rd April, 2013 and 12th March, 2016.

However, only the archived home page on 23rd April, 2013 was available with some contents when this reporter checked. For subsequent dates, an error message is displayed on the page. None of the subsidiary links to the homepage were archived by the site.

Legal practitioner, Mr Abdullateef Abdul said based on the provisions of the FOIA, the agency is suppose to have a medium where its information is shared online.

“The agency has an obligation to make information available online based on the Act,” the Lagos lawyer said. “But online does not necessarily mean that they must have a website.”

“If, for example, they have a Facebook account, that satisfies ‘online’ in the dissemination of information about their activities.”

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A further check showed that NMEC also has a Facebook page, which has remained rarely active  but had its last post on 6th April, 2019. A preceding post to that was made on 25th November, 2018. The page was created on 27th January, 2012.

On its twitter handle @NMEC_NIGERIA, its last tweet was on 19th October, 2012, barely a month after its creation on 4th September same year.

Another twitter handle also operated by the agency, @NMEC_NG was created in May 2017 but it was last updated on 21st September, 2017. The events of the year’s International Literacy Day celebration marked in Kebbi State in which NMEC retweeted the National Orientation Agency were the only items ever posted through the account.

While similar government agencies use the .gov.ng URL, it appeared that that of NMEC had some issues based on an error message displayed when EduCeleb.com attempted visiting nmec.gov.ng.

Technology expert, Yusuf Aweda explained that the message was either because the domain name had expired or does not exist.

Multiple funding channels but no results to show

NMEC is basically funded by the Nigerian federal government through the education ministry. It is also allowed by law to accept donations from local and international partners to do its work effectively.

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With the obvious lack of open access to the multiple possible activities going on at NMEC through its website and social media accounts, it may be difficult to gauge the progress made by the agency easily.

This newspaper has also explored the avenue of requesting such information but that had yielded no response.

In the 2019 budget, a sum of N2.24 billion was allocated to NMEC. In 2018, it was N2.2 billion. That of 2017 was N2.06 billion while in 2016, N3.72 billion was earmarked for NMEC.

Each of these budgets had items such as “internet access charges,” “satellite broadcasting access charges,” “publicity and advertisements”, aside the purchases of technological equipment running into tens of millions of naira.

Nigeria’s adult literacy rate is put at 65% by the education ministry, which had always given commitment in ending illiteracy among all citizens.

It is not clear why the government is not willing to share information on its progress with the over 114 million internet users in the country.

Text messages and calls to the Executive Secretary of NMEC, Professor Abba Haladu had remained unanswered till the time of publishing this report.

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