The Facts

Nigeria has no national funding for the arts, no government-run grants-awarding body to support the production of books, and no National Book Policy. In place of a proper publishing industry, the country is awash with book printers, supporting a flourishing clan of self-publishing authors. Distribution systems, where they exist, are non-efficient. Illiteracy is rampant, half the 150 million people live in poverty, and for most people buying a mere paperback remains a luxury." - Tolu Ogunlesi

Background Facts

  • Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa.
  • Nigeria is ranked 142 of 169 countries for adult literacy. (UNESCO Institute for Statistics 2010a)
  • Lagos is the most populous conurbation in Nigeria, with a population of over 7 million.
  • Lagos is estimated to be the 2nd fastest growing city in Africa and the 7th fastest in the world.
  • 502,000 primary school children in Lagos state. (Lagos State Ministry of Education 2009/2010 data)
  • 20:1 ratio of books to children. (observed data)

The illiteracy rate is high in Nigeria today. A child being bought or given a book, that is not a necessary school text, is a luxury in Nigeria. The Lagos State government has put in place free basic education for children and has followed on from that by passing the law to ensure all children go to school.

A Closer Look

  • Lagos State has 20 local government authorities: Agege, Ajeromo, Alimosho, Amuwo, Apapa, Badagry, Epe, Eti Osa, Ibeju Lekki, Ifako, Ikeja, Ikorodu, Kosofe, Lagos Island, Lagos Mainland, Mushin, Ojo, Oshodi/ Isolo, Shomolu and Surulere
  • Lagos State has 986 primary schools.
  • There are 445,044 children in Lagos State primary schools.


Research shows the average ratio of students to books in most local schools stands at a worrisome 20:1. This reality impacts not just on examinations outputs, but on general quest for knowledge and self-advancement. It is a popular fact that a majority non-literate nation is a nation heading for a nose-dive, causing great concern over socio-economic growth and future national development.