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The study was carried out to assess the functionality of literacy programmes for
women empowerment in Cross River State, Nigeria. In carrying out the study, three
research questions and three null hypotheses were developed to guide the study. The
study adopted survey research design. The Population of the study comprises of
19,256 women that enrolled in functional literacy programmes in Cross River State.
The sample of the study was 750 women. The instrument for data collection was a 32-
item structured questionnaire titled: Assessment of Functional Literacy Programmes
for Women Empowerment in Cross River State Questionnaire (AFLPWECRSQ). The
instrument for the study was face validated by three experts. The internal consistency
of the instrument was established using Cronbach Alpha reliability method which
yielded coefficients of 0.65 for vocational skills, 0.59 for basic health practices and
0.65 for ICT skills for empowering women. The data for the study were collected with
the help of 9 research assistants. The 721 copies of the questionnaire administered to
the respondents, were completely filled and retrieved representing 100 % rate of
return. The data collected were analysed using mean and standard deviation for
answering the research questions while t-test statistics was used to test the null
hypotheses at 0.05 level of significance. Based on the data analysed, the study found
that vocational skills, basic health practices and Information and Communication
Technology (ICT) skills are to a low extent provided in the vocational centres for
empowering the women in Cross River State. There were significant (p<0.05)
differences in the mean ratings of the responses of urban and rural women on 16 out
of the 32 items whereas there were no significant (p<0.05) differences on the
remaining 16 items. Based on the above findings, the study among others
recommended that ggovernment should improve the physical, infrastructural and
organizational standards of vocational institutions for women empowerment through
better funding, increase involvement of international donor agencies in the health
intervention programmes for improved health services for women and that women
should be encouraged to form cooperative societies so that they can be trained and
empowered as a group with relevant vocational, health and ICT skills for productive




Title Page i
Approval Page ii
Certification iii
Dedication iv
Acknowledgements v
Table of Contents vi
List of Tables ix
Abstract x
Background to the study 1
Statement of the problem 13
Purpose of the study 15
Significance of the study 16
Research questions 18
Hypotheses 18
Scope of the study 19
Conceptual framework 20
Assessment 20
Functional literacy 42
Empowerment 59
Theoretical framework 73
Critical social theory 73
Situated learning theory 75
Functional context theory 78
Review of Related Empirical Studies 80
Summary of Literature Review 88
Design of the study 92
Area of the study 92
Population of the study 93
Sample and sampling technique 94
Instrument for data collection 94
Validation of the instrument 95
Reliability of the instrument 95
Process for data collection 96
Method of data analysis 96
Summary of results 98
Discussion of findings 111
Implications of the study 115
Limitation for the study 116
Suggestions for further studies 117
Recommendations 118
Conclusion 120
Appendix A: Data collection instrument 132





Background to the study
All over the world, increasing attention is being paid to women
empowerment and the need to reduce gender disparity to ensure more balanced
gender participation in public and private life (Olaleye and Adeyemo, 2012). This
is in view of the established socio-economic and political restrictive practices and
constraints that have not allowed women to take advantage of their numbers and
positions to significantly influence their environment and personal well-being;
(Aderinoye, 2002). Such barriers include unemployment, lack of employable
skills, low level of educational attainment, poverty and ingrained attitudes of
exclusion that marginalize their role in the decision making process in their local
communities. Indeed, Hodges (2001) believed that sexism is still the most serious
barrier to women advancement in economic, political and educational endeavours.
This means that gender discrimination is still an impediment to women
To address the persistent problem of poverty and social exclusion among
marginalised groups, there is a fundamental need for public authorities, together
with other stakeholders to intervene to guarantee learning opportunities to enable
those at risk to achieve competencies (EU PLA Journal Summary Report 2008 on
adult Literacy).
Sadly, a fundamental constraint to women advancement is the low level of
educational attainment. Illiteracy is a predominant social problem in Nigeria that
impacts more on women. Even though female or girl child has been deliberately
encouraged to acquire education by successive governments in Nigeria, but
poverty, ignorance, religion, etc act as impediments to the realization of these
efforts (Hodges, 2001).
However, subsequent governments in Nigeria have made efforts to address
these problems through functional literacy programmes. Some of which include;
the launching of a ten year literacy campaign in 1982 and the establishment of the
National Commission for Mass Literacy Adult and Non formal Education in 1990
under the Decree No. 17. According to Fasokun (2012), states and local
governments have established functional literacy centres and institutes to provide
opportunities and encourage women to acquire education that could help them
address the problems of poverty, unemployment and other hindrances that impede
their social and individual growth.
For instance, UNESCO (2005) classified Nigeria among the nine countries in
the world which together account for seventy percent of global illiterate
population. Similarly, the United States Agency for International Development
USAID (2005) reported that despite the transition to democracy in 1999, Nigeria
faces enormous illiteracy challenges. Two thirds of the country’s citizens live in
poverty. Corruption is endemic with Nigerians perceived as the third most corrupt
countries of 102 nations observed by the Transparency International in 2003.
Unemployment is growing up to 40% with urban youths jobless, half of adult
population are illiterates, close to four million Nigeria are HIV positive and 26% of
children die before the age of five. This pathetic picture by UNESCO and USAID
about Nigeria behooves more on women who are affected by these indices.
However, the European Commission for Adult Literacy (2008) observed that
functional literacy can be a veritable tool to address some of these problems as
literacy was born with functionality planted in its core. Therefore, there is a case
for investing in functional literacy programmes for women as a means of raising
the basic skills of disadvantaged group in order to improve productivity. Raising
the overall level of skills of the population will also bring a number of individual
and societal benefits in terms of improved health and well being, and increased
civic participation.
The antecedent of functional literacy as presented by the EU report (2008) is
usually traced to the UNESCO Tehran conference of 1965. Functional literacy has
brought literacy beyond the knowledge and ability to break the written code of a
system of symbols which has to be taught and learned. Functional literacy is now
based on the psychology of man and woman at work. It is now accepted as
essential element in development. The two streams of literacy and economic skills
are therefore closely linked to economic and social priorities and to the present
future manpower needs. Consequently, UNESCO (2006; 7) had advised:
That literacy instruction should enable illiterates left behind by the
course of events and who are producing little to become socially and
economically integrated in the new world order where scientific and
technological progress calls for ever more knowledge and
The expectations that functional literacy has to impact on the beneficiaries
made the Persepolis Declaration of 1975 to have demanded that literacy be a
contribution to the liberation of man and his full development, teach
consciousness, make people act on the world, transform it and bring about
authentic development through reading the word and reading the world. Thus the
concept of generalized literacy has become a combination of literacy, functionality
and awareness (World Bank, 2002).
Functional literacy which is also called workplace literacy was a child of
development with its newest manifestation of literacy integrated with income
generation. It is on the above premise that Njoku(2011) argued that since literacy
is necessary for learning new skills for increased productivity both on the farm and
in the factory, it should therefore, be central to any development strategy for
alleviating poverty. However, UNESCO (2008) had further elaborated the features
of any functional literacy programmes. These are;
(i). Literacy programmes should be incorporated into and correlated with
economic and social development plans;
(ii). The eradication of illiteracy should start with categories of
populations which are motivated and which need literacy for their
country’s benefit;
(iii). Literacy programme should preferably be linked with economic
priorities and carried out in areas undergoing rapid economic
(iv). Literacy programmes must impart not only reading and writing, but
also professional and technological knowledge, thereby leading to
fuller participation of adults in economic and civil life;
(v). Literacy must be an integral part of overall education plan and
educational system of each country;
(vi). The financial needs of functional literacy should be met out of various
resource, public and private as well as provided for economic
(vii). And the literacy programme should increase labour productivity, food
production, industrialisation, social and professional mobility,
creation of new manpower, diversification of economy (p6).
In response to UNESCO’s (2008) call to use literacy as synergy in addressing
the persistent problems of poverty and social exclusion among marginalized
groups, private and public authorities, together with other stakeholders have been
intervening to guarantee learning opportunities to enable those at risk to achieve
key competencies in vocational and health skills. Consequently many nations of
the world have instituted functional literacy programmes to address the issues of
illiteracy, poverty and unemployment in relation to their peculiar environments.
For instance, in Ireland, the government has the life-long learning framework;
while in the United Kingdom, they have the skills for life programme to cater for
the literacy needs of their people (EU PLA Journal on Adult Literacy Summary
Report, 2008).
Nigeria is not an exception. The National Commission for Mass Literacy,
Adult and Non-formal Education (NMEC) was established in 1999 to encourage
all forms of functional literacy programmes for youths and adult outside the formal
school system, such as functional literacy, remedial and vocational education
(Federal Republic of Nigeria FRN,2004). NMEC achieves the objectives of
functional adult literacy programmes by coordinating the activities and
programmes of adult and non-formal education nationwide which are to:
(i) Provide functional literacy and continuing education for adults and youth
who did not complete their primary education. These include the nomads,
migrant families and disabled groups, especially the disadvantaged
(ii) provide functional and remedial education for those young people who
did not complete secondary education;
(iii) provide education for different categories of completers of the formal
education system in order to improve their basic knowledge and skills;
(iv) provide in-services, on-the-job, vocational and professional training for
different categories of workers and professional in order to improve their
skills and give the adult citizens of the country necessary aesthetic
cultural and civic education for public enlightenment, Federal Republic
of Nigeria(FRN, 2004 ).
According to the Federal Republic of Nigeria (2012), the local government
councils are to see to the day to day running of the programmes of adult and nonformal
education in local government areas through which functional literacy
programmes are provided for women. The main thrust of functional literacy
programmes has been to empower beneficiaries through training in positive skills,
knowledge and attitude to overcome social and environmental factors in areas of
community health, vocational trade, environmental and political enlightenment. It
is on this backdrop that Kaber (2001) defined empowerment as development
process or activity such as skills training, management techniques or capacity
building, which might have some impact upon people’s ability to deal with
different political and administrative systems and influence decision making. The
areas of empowerment according to Kaber (2001) are to be focused on three
dimensions; the capacity to exercise strategic choices, access to resources, agency
and ability to influence outcome. He further observed that empowerment focuses
on inequalities in economic and political participation and decision making power
over economic resources which are in line with the United Nations Development
programme’s gender empowerment measures. Similarly, UNICEF Women’s
Equality and Empowerment framework emphasizes women’s access, awareness of
causes of inequality, capacity to direct one’s own interests and taking control and
actions to overcome obstacles for reducing structural inequality (UNICEF, 2001).
Obanya (2004) had identified four dimensions needed to enhance the
functionality of literacy programme for women empowerment. They include:
(i) The basic skills dimension,
(ii) Life skills dimension;
(iii) Socio-economic dimension and
(iv) Lifelong learning dimension.
The basic literacy dimension includes; reading and writing skills, numeracy
(working with numbers skill), graphicacy (working with signs, shapes and figure
skills and measuracy (notions of length, width, volume, distance, weight/measure,
among others. Empowerment in life skills are concerned with self-awareness
development dimension, analytical skills development, decisionmaking/
organizational skill and manipulative (technical) skills. The socioeconomic
dimensions have to do with; vocational skills acquisition, vocational
skills improvement, sustainable income-generation skills, and learning-to-learn
skills. In the fourth dimension, which is life long learning; empowerment is
directed at all forms of societal support for continuous learning and life long
However, according to Huyer and Mitter (2002), there is already a structural
inequality in the area of Information Communication Technology (ICT), where,
integrating gender equality considerations into policy, programmes and projects at
all levels would promote social, economic and political empowerment of women.
Huyer and Mitter (2002) opined that:
a focus on the gender dimension of information and communication
technologies is essential not only for preventing an adverse impact of the
digital revolution on gender equality or the perpetuation of existing
inequalities and discrimination, but also for enhancing women’s equitable
access to the benefits of information and communication technologies and to
ensure that they can become a central tool for the empowerment of women
and the promotion of gender equality (Huyer and Mitter, 2002;3).
In view of the immense benefits of ICT in empowerment through skill
acquisition, NMEC and LGEAs organise computer based literacy programme
(CBLP) to create job opportunities especially for girls (Powell 2003). Computer
instructors from Education Authorities and resource persons are engaged in
different areas of ICT to give training to the women at the vocational training
centres. The training offer the beneficiaries’ opportunity to develop skills in areas
of Mobile phone recharge card printing, computer repairs and maintenance,
computer programming, Coral draw, storage and distribution of ICT accessories
and Microsoft word among others.
Another area of interest for women empowerment is in the vocational skills
acquisition (VSA). Nkoyo (2002) believed that there are several aspects of
vocational training that can help to address the problems of unemployment,
poverty, illiteracy and gender-related issues among women leading to
establishment of vocational skills acquisition centres (VSACs) for economic selfreliance
in Nigeria. Similarly, Naraya (2005) noted that in many states, women
education centres have been established to open up educational opportunities for
women folk and very often, the emphasis have been on vocational education
According to the FRN (2012), vocational training centres are established in
every local government in collaboration with NMEC and voluntary agencies. Such
centres as they exist in Cross River State, train women in areas of hair dressing,
weaving, tailoring, cane-chair making and tie and dye. Other areas include the art
of making detergent, toiletries, cakes, laundry and printing. The new methods of
production and preservation of farm products are equally taught. Instructors from
the education units of the local governments and resource persons train the
beneficiaries in these areas of skill acquisition. Besides, there have been regular
health seminars in local government civic centres and community halls to educate
women in different areas of community health. Such seminars are usually
conducted under the auspices of state; local and voluntary organisations. In some
specialized areas resource persons are invited in those centres to train participants
on skills in those areas.
In line with the use of functional literacy through training in public health
and vocational skills, the women in Cross River State have been receiving
training in contraceptive use, nutrition, importance of breast feeding, control of
malaria, child care skills, etc. Instructors from the health units of the local
governments and resource medical personnel are engaged in those centres by the
local governments in collaboration with the centres for adult and non formal
education and some voluntary organisations. This is in recognition of the World
Health Organizations’ (WHO, 2006) stance that health promotion should address
effective empowerment strategies by providing basic health information to people
with health challenges through basic health programmes.
It is therefore evident that through skill acquisition, ICT and community
health programmes, women in Cross River State have been receiving functional
literacy programmes for their empowerment. The programmes which are provided
at adult literacy centres, skill acquisition and ICT centres and at civic and
community halls using resource persons and literacy instructors are being assessed
to determine the extent the programme has empowered the women.
The study therefore, considers it necessary to fill the gap as a result of
unavailable information on the types and extent functional literacy programmes
have empowered women in Cross River State through vocational, ICT and basic
health programmes for women. The outcome of this study is expected to provide
such information both to stakeholders or interest groups and researchers.
Statement of the problem
Functional literacy programme is seen as a means of empowering the
individual to cope with the requirements of personal, social and economic life. A
well implemented functional literacy programme is expected to provide the
individual with the knowledge, skills and value to enable one to overcome the
problems of poverty, disease and ignorance. It is on this premise that all nations
including Nigeria expect to use functional literacy programmes to address several
social, economics and political problems of women.
However, reaching adults especially women with literacy skills is a major
challenge to all countries. This is because such women are among the categories of
people most unlikely to participate in structured adult learning as a result of some
socio-cultural factors such as lack of access to education and poor employable
skills. To address the problem of low participation of women in education which
had affected their personal and social status (powerlessness) governments and non
governmental agencies embark on programmes aimed at using functional literacy
to enhance their skills.
Such programmes in Cross River State are in the areas of vocational skill
acquisition (VSA), information communication technology (ICT), and basic health
(BH). The objectives of establishing these programmes are to address employment
needs as well as problems of poverty, illiteracy and other gender related issues that
undermine efforts towards women empowerment.
Based on the lofty objectives of providing functional literacy skills in areas
of basic health, vocational and ICT skills, it is expected that implementation of
these programme in Cross River State must have impacted positively towards
providing the skills, knowledge and values to transform the lives of women. It is
therefore, necessary to determine how the vocational skills centres have been able
to provide the women with skills in the areas of hair dressing, weaving, sewing,
Cane-chair making, tie and dye. It would also determine the extent the basic health
programmes have critically reduced the level of ignorance on health and health
related matters and ensured cultural and local sensitivity in health issues (World
Bank 2006). Similarly, as the enormous value of ICT and vocational literacy in
respect to income generation, health, and information awareness are obvious, such
values for women in Cross River State are yet to be determined.
Nevertheless, available literatures to the researcher in the area of study have
not provided information on the extent these programmes have been able to assist
the women in enhancing their status or address their perceived needs. It is based
on this background that the researcher was interested in determining how
functional literacy has empowered the women in Cross River State. The problem
of this study therefore, was to assess the functional literacy programmes in Cross
River State to determine the extent the programmes have empowered the women.
Purpose of the study
The purpose of this study was to determine the extent the functional literacy
programmes have empowered the women in Cross River State. Specifically, the
study assessed the extent:
1. The vocational skills provided in the vocational centres have empowered
the women in Cross River State.
2. The basic health programmes have empowered women in Cross River
3. The extent to which Information Communication Technology have
empowered women on computer-related businesses in Cross River State.
Significance of the study
The findings of the study will benefit; researchers, women activists, Cross
River State Agency for Mass Literacy, Adult and Non-formal Education, local
governments, donor agencies, non-governmental organizations and community
development associations.
Researchers will see the findings of the study important document especially
those in area of research involving women empowerment and functional literacy.
The findings would also help such researchers in comparative study in other states
and countries implementing functional literacy programmes.
Cross River State Agency for Mass Literacy will use the document as an
assessment tool on progress or achievements so far in the implementation of
functional programmes for women in Cross River State. The outcome of the study
would also be a synergy in the self assessments of the agency on the
implementation of the functional literacy programme in the state.
The eighteen local government councils would use the document to determine
the weaknesses and progress of the programme. It would enable such local
councils address or give more attention in some aspects of the programme in their
The study would be of immense value to the ministry of women affairs to
determine areas of interest in addressing the needs of women with respect to
women empowerment. The outcome of the study can attract funding to the state
from the ministry in critical areas of progress or lapses to strengthen them.
It will also help donor agencies and other non-governmental organisations to
assess the extent their finances and support has helped in functional literacy
programmes in Cross River State. Such agencies could find the work necessary in
addressing similar issues in other areas. Women activists will find the study
interesting as it would help them in assessing the efforts of government and nongovernmental
organisations in empowering women in Cross River State, Nigeria.
International development agencies such as UNESCO and CEDAW would
find the document interesting as they have been implementing several programmes
aimed at enhancing the status of women. Some aspects of the programme could be
used by the agencies as reference points in new areas for women empowerment.
Human Rights Organisations would also see the work relevant as the impact would
help them address issues pertaining to the programme on how to strengthen them.
The work would also be significant to communities who are likely to use
similar programmes in their community poverty reduction strategies. Such
communities can use the outcome of the study as a blue print on calling for
Government assistance to address and empower their women. The work would as
well contribute to literature as it would provide information on women
empowerment in Cross River State, which hither to, lack available theoretical and
empirical information in literature.
Research questions
The following research questions were posed to guide the study:
1. To what extent have the vocational skills provided in the vocational
centres empowered the women in Cross River State?
2. To what extent have the basic health programmes empowered the women
in Cross River State?
3. To what extent have the Information Communication Technology (ICT)
programmes empowered the women in Cross River State?
The hypotheses were tested at 0.5 level of significance:
1. There is no significant difference between the mean ratings of urban and
rural women on the extent the vocational skills programmes have
empowered women in Cross River State.
2. There is no significant difference on the mean ratings of urban and rural
women on the extent the basic health programmes have empowered the
women in Cross River state.
3. There is no significant difference in the mean ratings of the urban and rural
women on the extent the Information Communication Technology (ICT)
programmes have empowered the women in Cross River State.
Scope of the study
The study is an assessment of functional literacy programmes for women
empowerment in Cross River State. The study covered the vocational programmes,
basic health programmes and ICT programmes for women in the 18 local
government areas of Cross River State. All the women who are beneficiaries of
the vocational, ICT and basic health programmes in Cross River State were used as
respondents in the study.


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