Spanning six months in its pilot scale, the project was formally launched on February 1 by AUN Founder, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, and Adamawa State Governor Mohammed Umaru Jibrilla at the University campus. The occasion was witnessed by members of the AUN community and other distinguished guests, including the Adamawa State commissioners for education and health, Kaleitpwa Farauta and Fatima Atiku, respectively, and Mr. Linus T. Wajiati of the State Agency for Mass Education who, in his vote of thanks, sought to partner AUN in the TELA project.
TELA is sponsored by the USAID, which has given AUN a grant to improve literacy and numeracy in Adamawa State. The program targets an estimated 22,000 vulnerable children, at-risk youths, orphans, displaced children, and adolescent boys and girls.
AUN President, Dr Margee Ensign, announced at the occasion that the US government gave $801,000 to fund this project and AUN tasked to prove that this pilot scheme is scalable. If it succeeds, it will be replicated across Nigeria.
AUN-Adamawa Peace Initiative (API) had identified 22,000 vulnerable children around the community. This is 2,000 more than the grant will fund; AUN will cover the costs of the additional children. Seven hundred and fifty facilitators (and 750 locations) have been identified throughout Yola and Jimeta to oversee the program.
It is expected that TELA will reach more than 22,000 beneficiaries in Adamawa State since radio is a common medium of mass communication in the north. Radio and tablet computers will be used as part of the instructional teaching content in the program.
President Ensign later invited the Founder and the Governor to launch the “Lesson One” of the literacy program. They were also handed the literacy workbook to share among the children. The Lesson One demo of the radio literacy workbook series went live for 15 minutes.
The lead facilitator of the radio literacy program, Dr. Jacob U. Jacob, the Interim Associate Dean of Arts & Science at AUN, said, “Each location will have between 5-10 people and a facilitator to assist the children’s work. We have also provided radio sets; the numeracy program will broadcast on Mondays at 4:10 pm and the literacy program on Thursdays at 4:10pm. Repeat broadcasts will air on Tuesdays and Fridays.” He added that AUN is partnering with non-public Radio Gotel to air this program.
Another lead facilitator from AUN, Dr. Grace Malgwi, explained the pedagogy of TELA. She stated that radio is only part of the literacy program; tablets loaded with apps written by AUN students will also provide learning material for 2,000 of the children.
“Eighteen thousand children will be reached via radio and 2,000 will be reached face-to-face in an after-school tutoring program.”
Dr. Malgwi, an Assistant Professor of English, further explained that AUN students would play a fundamental role in the literacy program.
“AUN students enrolled in CDV [Community Development] courses are the trained tutors in the after school program; they have written over 50 children’s book-titles translated into Hausa and Fulfulde.
Every child will be taught letter identification, letter sounding, blending of sounds, and then proceed to reading three letter words, and decodable stories.”
TELA addresses the missing link between the home languages as a medium of instruction for these early grade primary school children. It also addresses the current lack of appropriate reading materials available for use in instruction.
In his remarks the Adamawa State governor applauded the initiative and thanked USAID. He described the program as “the future.” He pledged his support to program, noting that, there is nothing that will compromise his support for education.” He agreed to make this year, the Year of TELA and Literacy in Adamawa State.
The AUN Founder told a touching account of his own pursuit of an education in the 1950s, how the sand was his notebook and his finger the pencil. “You are lucky to have the pencil, paper, radio, and tablet. You have no excuse not to be literate.”
He stated that when AUN was first conceived, he thought that “the mandate would be meaningless if it does not affect the lives of the immediate community of this state.”
The Founder praised President Ensign for her excellent work in driving the vision of AUN as a development university. He charged AUN community to “…ensure the mission and vision of the University is translated into development solutions.”
Other dignitaries who graced the occasion were chieftains of AUN-API, the prominent peace-building association, who nominated the TELA participants from their primary constituencies, including Dr. Stephen Dami Mamza, the Catholic Bishop of Yola Diocese, Mallam Gambo Jika of Jamatu Nasril Islam, Bishop Stephen Ransom of New Life Gospel Center, Imam Dauda Bello of Adamawa Muslim Council, and Hajia Turai Kadir of the Center for Women & Adolescent Empowerment.