By Adesina Wahab
IN April 2018, when the Edo State Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, launched the Edo Basic Education Sector Transformation, popularly known as EdoBEST, many people did not envisage the kind of impact it would make in the education sector in the state and that it would become what other states would want to emulate. With massive renovation and construction of facilities in schools across the state and the various innovations that have been brought into the sector, it has really been able to give the pupils and students the best they deserve.
Speaking on the journey so far during a media parley, the Chairperson of Edo State Universal Basic Education Board, Dr Joan Osa Oviawe, said the pillars on which the programme was based namely: system strengthening, teacher professional development, community engagement, school infrastructure and facilities among others, have been largely met.
Oviawe explained that a census of schools, teachers and pupils was undertaken so as to be able to prepare adequately for the programme and 1,046 primary schools were identified and only 186 of the number have not been fully integrated into the system. “Over 11,000 teachers have been trained and over 70 quality assurance officers daily go to monitor our schools. Over N6 billion has been spent on the provision of infrastructure in our schools as well. Each teacher was given a tablet to work with and we developed central lesson notes, not that teachers would be writing different lesson notes.
“Because of the same lesson notes we have adopted, all students now learn the same content. We found out that some pupils were lagging behind and the pupils were grouped according to their ability to read and write, even though they may be in the same class. We also re-introduced inter-house sports competition, school excursion and even introduced open day. Open day is twice a term,” she said.
Provision of facilities/teachers’ motivation
Oviawe said over 400 primary schools were renovated, adding: “We introduced some novel ideas. We provided different types of furniture for different classes. Furniture given to pupils in primary one are different from the ones given to pupils in primary six. Also, we painted the classrooms in different colours. Colours that are appropriate to the ages of the pupils. All this is to stimulate learning. Over 16,000 members of our School-Based Management Committees were trained and a School Improvement Grant of N50 million given the committee and the Parent-Teacher Association to improve facilities in schools. They can do contracts ranging from N250,000 to N7 million. We also have a special programme for our teachers called Edo Supporting Teachers to Achieve, EdoSTAR. Over 3,000 new teachers are to be engaged soon.”
Inclusive education/school feeding
Oviawe further said a programme tagged: EdoBEST Inclusive, which focuses on special education for the visually impaired and the hearing impaired was introduced. “Tests were conducted on some visually impaired students and it was found out that corrective surgery could restore the sight of some of them and the surgeries were performed. I am happy to say those children are now in regular schools. We are not leaving behind the hearing impaired students and others too,” she assured.
She added that while the national school feeding programme of the Federal Government does not cover all the classes, EdoBEST gives food to all pupils in the primary school sector.
Gains of the programme
Oviawe listed some of the gains to include an upsurge in the enrolment figures in public schools. ” We have also been able to stem the tide of teachers abandoning rural schools for urban ones. We have standardised education and we are getting the result in the improvement in national and other examinations. Absenteeism by teachers has gone down because our quality assurance officers can come and visit your school at any time. I also go round with my colleagues on the board,” she explained.