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How EdoBEST is striking a balance between academics, sports, culture

By Ejiro Adams
06 April 2022   |   10:38 am
Across Edo state, lessons are being learnt as government-owned primary schools mark inter-house sports and cultural day season. So colourful and exciting are the events that they have been described as occasions where the old meets the new. This is in keeping with the philosophy of EdoBEST in schools which promotes not just academic laurels…

Across Edo state, lessons are being learnt as government-owned primary schools mark inter-house sports and cultural day season. So colourful and exciting are the events that they have been described as occasions where the old meets the new.

This is in keeping with the philosophy of EdoBEST in schools which promotes not just academic laurels but also values and ethics which are essential in building society.

On inter-house sports day, pupils demonstrate their prowess in callanetics, marching to beat, short and long races and other sports which help imbibe qualities including punctuality, alertness and fitness. 

While on cultural days, there is a rich display of tradition. Values including respect for others, cooperation and charity are extolled as pupils display their rich cultural heritage through dressing, exchange of indigenous food, greeting and other cultural displays that remind everyone of how communal life thrived in Africa in centuries past.

This year, the events were even more interesting, following the lull in activities occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic. With Covid-19 guidelines in minds, school visitors and pupils who participated in activities strove to be at their best.

On March 26, just before the clock struck 12pm, five boys aged between 8 and 10 stood holding spoons on the playground of Eresoyen primary school in Benin City in readiness for the egg race. 

Dressed in red, yellow, green, blue and pink sportswear, the task before them was simple. They were each to pick an egg from the ground with their spoons and race across the 30 meters track in front of them. 

At the blast of the whistle, the crowd of spectators went into a frenzy. 

All the boys in the competition, except the one in blue, successfully picked up their eggs and headed for the finish line. The boy in blue struggled for another 10 seconds before successfully picking his egg but eventually won the race.

“Perseverance and consistency can ensure success in life,” the Chairman of the occasion who is also the Chairman of the School-Based Management Committee (SBMC) of Eresoyen Primary School noted afterwards. The Royal father of the day, His Royal Highness Professor S.E. Aduwa Ogiegbean, who is the Enogie (traditional ruler) of Ogbeson, sitting a few meters away nodded in approval.

Why this matters 
“This is one of the things I still remember from my school days,” Mrs. Margaret Osenobu, a parent at Eresoyen Primary School said as she watched her daughter perform in the match pass. 

“I can still hear the drums in my ears and remember how inter-house sports competitions were in our days. To us, inter-house sports was like Christmas. We thank God that Governor Godwin Obaseki brought this tradition back with the EdoBEST programme she said.

With the introduction of the EdoBEST programme into Edo state schools four years ago, Edo SUBEB also incorporated inter-house sports completions into the system in a bid to strike a balance between learning in the classroom and physical exercise for development. This is in line with global standards.

According to the U.S. Centre of Disease control, “regular physical activity can help children and adolescents improve cardiorespiratory fitness, build strong bones and muscles, control weight, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and reduce the risk of developing health conditions such as: Heart disease, Cancer, Type 2 diabetes, High blood pressure, Osteoporosis and Obesity.

The CDC generally encourages preschool-aged children (ages 3 through 5 years) to be physically active throughout the day for growth and development. While children and adolescents ages 6 through 17 years are expected do 60 minutes or more of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity each day, including daily aerobic.

The annual inter-house sports event is the culmination of the year-long exercises and provides an opportunity to reward pupils that has developed their competencies in sports and demonstrated sportsmanship. 

“We are always on the look out for pupils who do well in sports. Just as the EdoBEST programme is also making our pupils the best. We do this to encourage them to do more because we are aware that sports is also an avenue for social development,” headteacher of Eresoyen primary school said. 

The arrangement on ground was enough evidence that the school takes the event seriously. The racing and marching track were nearly demarcated, a first aid team was on ground, the children were properly kitted in their sportswear, a sound system was in place to facilitate announcement while a Boys Brigade team was on ground to provide music. 

At the end of the occasion on that afternoon in Eresoyen primary school, everyone came together to sing and dance following the conclusion of the inter-house sports ceremony. 

They praised Governor Godwin Obaseki, describing him as father, the hailed the Oba of Benin and many other Obas from generations past, they described the current Edo SUBEB Executive Chairman as a great mother, while they also heaped encomium on their headteachers.

As is the tradition in many schools, the pupils ended their performance with the famous EdoBEST song. 

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