Redefining Education with The Thinking Cap Literary Initiative

Thinking Cap Literary Initiative

Education and the surrounding problems like the lack of and poor quality of being one of the most significant issues Africa faces today. Nigeria is not spared from this and 59 years after Independence, Nigeria is still taking baby steps in the area of education. It is very sad that in 2019 a large chunk of Nigerian children are still out of school and many others are receiving a very poor quality of education.

According to the UNICEF Website, “Even though primary education is officially free and compulsory, about 10.5 million of the country’s children aged 5-14 years are not in school. Only 61 per cent of 6-11-year-olds regularly attend primary school and only 35.6 per cent of children aged 36-59 months receive early childhood education. In the north of the country, the picture is even bleaker, with a net attendance rate of 53 per cent. Getting out-of-school children back into education poses a massive challenge. Gender, like geography and poverty, is an important factor in the pattern of educational marginalization. States in the north-east and north-west have female primary net attendance rates of 47.7 per cent and 47.3 per cent, respectively, meaning that more than half of the girls are not in school�?.

The above statement points to two problems, first, a lower percentage of the Nigerian population are being educated at the Early Child Education stage and 39% of children at age 6-11 are out of primary schools. 11 is the ‘official’ age for entry to secondary school and yet at that stage, a significant number of children are out of school. In the North of Nigeria, there’s an attendance rate of only 53 per cent. Another alarming part of the above statistics is the exclusion of girls from school, especially in the northern part. So hypothetically if the kids in the North of Nigeria were 50 million, only 26,500,000 are in school. And according to the above statistics, out of this 26.5 million, only 12,640,500 and 12,534,500 girls respectively are in school in the North East and North West of Nigeria approximately.

In 2017 ONE championed a petition tagged “130 Million Girls are out of School�?. According to the ONE Website, “…for girls and women in the poorest countries, that inequality is amplified. Right now, there are over 130 million girls around the world who are denied their right to education — and thus the chance to reach their full potential. These 130 million girls are 130 million potential engineers, entrepreneurs, and political leaders that the world is missing out on�?.

Nigeria is a member of the so-called ‘poor countries’ and with her large population, undoubtedly a huge fraction of these 130 million girls are Nigerians.

The further problem is that even in the areas where good education is being given, education is low-quality or limited in its scope. One of the greatest aspects of the Nigerian educational system I most decry is the focus on theory and neglect of the practical side of learning. I mean how many Nigerian University students can write and present one-page papers on the most basic topics? While we fight to better the education system in general, we should also look at this area and broaden the scope of Nigerian education because as it is right now, Nigeria is not preparing students for the World.

These are a few problems and challenges Nigeria faces, but a lot can be done to change the state of the nation. Today I bring to you what a young Nigerian, Christine Vihishima is doing in her corner. Christine’s Idea was to improve literacy through several creative means with her NGO TCLI. I’ve actually written about Christine before but I attended their Annual Spelling Bee Competition two weeks ago and I was impressed all over. Read on Christine’s work and celebrate what she does.


Thinking Cap Literacy Initiative (TCLI) is a registered and recognized non-governmental organization aimed at rolling back illiteracy among Nigerian children using creative methods. We are passionate about contributing our quota to achieving Sustainable Development Goal number four (4) which is Quality Education. TCLI has been in existence since the year 2012 and has over these seven (7) years, reached over 1,500 children across rural and urban areas in schools, villages and IDP Camps with the powerful tool of literacy, via creative channels. Some of these channels are spelling bees, reading clinics, writing workshops, mobile libraries, chess and scrabble tutoring and others.

TCLI was founded by Miss Christine Vihishima, a 24-year old Nigerian with a passion for literacy and equitable access to education. She kicked off this passion with an annual spelling bee tagged ‘Word Builders Spelling Contest’, which has successfully had 7 editions over the period of 2012-2019, across Plateau, Bauchi, and Akwa-Ibom states, reaching more than 1,000 Nigerian children so far. This contest brings together students from across private and public primary schools to spell. The first edition was in 2012 which hosted about 150 children in both Jos and Bauchi states. It received overwhelming support from educators and parents alike.

The competition is unique and purposeful in that, the contestants are given 6 months or more to prepare for the competition, and they are not only tested on their oral spelling skills, but also on their written spelling skills as well. Doing this has helped to create a balance in both worlds. The contest began with a spelling manual alone but has evolved into a complete package that includes a manual with rules and words to practice. It also has an audio CD with correct pronunciation which serves as a learning aid. During the contest, the children are engaged in meaningful activities like Scrabble, Chess, Reading/storytelling, motivational talks, movie screening, brain teaser games and lots more. Each participant goes home with a book after the contest as well to encourage and develop their reading culture.


Our plans for the future are to extend our reach to other parts of the Federation, to hold regional contests in various regions and then host a grand finale, to extend our reach to secondary schools, and to develop more educational learning resources for public consumption.

We believe that good readers are good spellers vice versa! Join us as we #spelllikecrazy!

For inquiries and to volunteer with TCLI contact TCLI on:

Twitter- @Tclinitiativeng

Email –

Phone – 07031285512

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