How Governor Obaseki is championing basic education reform in Edo
State-owned primary and junior secondary schools in Edo state closed for Easter holiday on 1st April and resumed for the third term on 9, May 2022. In-between, four basic education sector professional development exercises occurred across the state.
Three days before resumption Quality Assurance Officers (QAOs) and Learning and Development Officers (LDOs) in the three senatorial districts of the state met to undergo a training that now enables them to prepare for an impending audit and plan for school resumption.
Between 5-8th April, headteachers, principals, education secretaries, school heads and other school leaders attended a 3-day summit in Benin aimed at upskilling them on the job. On 27 April, another set of school leaders were trained in their various local government areas, with a few virtual presentations disseminated centrally from Benin.
These pieces of training come on the back of two pronouncements that show that Governor Godwin Obaseki is ahead in the basic education sector reform curve.
While speaking to a group of engineers on the afternoon of 13, April 2022, Dr Hamid Bobboyi, Executive Secretary of the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) expressed concerns over poor learning outcomes in basic education in Nigeria.
Dr. Bobboyi who was obviously pained blamed the state of basic education on a few factors, chief among them: lack of regular professional training programmes for teachers and low remuneration.
Four days earlier, Dr. Geofferry Njoku, UNICEF’s Communications Specialist, declared that ‘‘it is about time we focused on learning for children through teacher training, changing the curriculum and changing the quality of education.”
Dr Njoku spoke at a media dialogue event on foundational literacy and numeracy where among other things UNICEF noted that Nigeria is going through learning poverty, where 70% of 10-year-olds who are in school cannot understand a simple sentence or perform basic numeracy tasks.
As far back as 2018 in Edo state, Governor Obaseki addressed these emerging national challenges through EdoBEST.
After the launch of the programme in primary schools, as many as 11,000 teachers were trained to enable them deliver lessons better with the help of technology. Some personnel in the school system were even sent abroad to gain knowledge that is relevant to 21st Century education system management.
In November 2021, junior secondary schools were officially handed over to the Mrs. Ozavize E. Salami led Edo State Universal Basic Education Board (Edo SUBEB) for better management and administration.
By February 2022, the EdoBEST programme had been successfully extended to 232 junior secondary schools and 148 primary schools considered as hard-to-reach and riverine schools which have been neglected by successive state reforms before the Governor Obaseki era.
No effort has been spared at ensuring that pupils in state-owned primary and junior secondary schools achieve superior learning outcomes.
The focus of the governor on the professional development of teachers is understandable. At a recent graduation ceremony for EdoBEST training inductees in Benin City, the governor noted that “No society develops without teachers. Teachers are at the heart of the EdoBEST reform.”
“You are very important to us,” he told teachers in February 2022 as they concluded their EdoBEST induction training. “We are ready to go to any length to get resources to train you because you are the ones driving the reform,” he said amidst applause from teachers.
To this end, the basic education system has been impacted positively.
Principals who were part of the EdoBEST Induction training in February attested to the impact of the training. “This training has been beautiful and awesome, my expectation has been met because this is a new dawn in the history of education in Edo State,” one of them said in a televised interview.
“This training will help us manage the school better, especially for a school like mine which is large. With the knowledge I have gathered here, it means technology is coming in instead of analogue and the things we didn’t even know before, we have been taught here.
“With these tablets provided by the government, it will be much easier to manage the school because, for instance, attendance, we don’t have to do it manually, we just have to click and the records are taken.
“And teaching is going to be very very effective. You don’t have to monitor the teachers running up and down. You can stand in one point and monitor the teachers,” she said smiling broadly.
Another EdoBEST Induction trainee, Ms. Confidence Ojale Osayende noted that “during this training, we have been told that no child is dull. All children should be motivated towards learning. The classroom is not just for the top-performing pupils, it is also for the average pupils who should be encouraged to reach their full potential,” she said.
“I’m mostly delighted that teachers have the opportunity to learn and unlearn. I am saying to Governor Godwin Obaseki, Good Job you, she said.
In recognition of its innovation and emphasis on improving learning outcomes among pupils, EdoBEST is the only subnational programme that is part of the World Bank Accelerator Programme.