By Etop Ekanem
Lagos State’s impressive strides in transforming public primary education by introducing modern pedagogical and technical skills to manage school systems, improve learning outcomes, and develop professional competencies are on showcase at the ongoing Education World Forum (EWF) in Britain, the United Kingdom.
This year’s edition of EWF themed ‘Education: building forward together; stronger, bolder, better’ featuring heads of states, education, and skills ministers is holding two years after the last in-person edition in 2020.
Education ministers from over 100 countries as well as international organizations and Non-Governmental Organizations, are gathered to discuss how technology, artificial intelligence and experience can be leveraged to strengthen education systems and economies worldwide. Discussions will also include how countries can develop their education systems with limited resources.
Executive Chairman, Lagos State Universal Basic Education (LASUBEB) Board, Wahab Alawiye-King and the Board’s Director of Administration and Human Resources, Mrs TaiyeOguntona, are representing EKOEXCEL at the forum.
EKOEXCEL’s counterpart programme in Edo State, EdoBEST was represented by the Edo State Commissioner for Education, Dr Joan OsaOviawe and the Chair, Edo State Universal Basic Education Board, Mrs Ozavize Salami.
EKOEXCEL’s participation is significant because governments in Nigeria are looking for new solutions to re-build the education system against the backdrop of the recent disclosure by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) about the poor learning outcomes in Nigeria’s primary education.
Education activists have always complained about the poor budgetary allocation to education in federal and state budgets as well as inadequate teacher training and outdated teaching methods, some of which the international UNICEF touched upon in assessments of the poor education prospects in Nigeria.
One in every five of the world’s out-of-school children is in Nigeria, with an estimate of over 10 million such children in Nigeria with Lagos State having over 2 million of that negative statistic. There seems to be light at the end of this never-ending dark tunnel with Governor Sanwo-olu’s determination to change the narrative with the introduction of Project Zero, a public-privatepartnership initiative to fund education for out-of-school children and the EKOEXCEL programme.
Launched in 2019, EKOEXCEL has made laudable/noteworthy achievements since then. Over 18,000 headteachers and teachers have been moved from analogue to digital teaching, using tablets and updated curricula. Over 14,000 primary school teachers from 1,011 public primary schools have been captured under the scheme. The education reform programme has also recorded remarkable gains in enhancing the teacher-pupil interaction experience through technology (eLearning) in Lagos State primary schools.
The transformational intervention has also aided uniformity and strict adherence to the curriculum. Teachers’ tablets are preloaded with lessons and content that can be effectively monitored for standardisation across Lagos’ 1,011 public primary schools.
Commendably, all the achievements are not just based on conjectures. They are factual, as the EKOEXCEL 2020-2021 Endline Fluency and Numeracy Evaluation showed. EKOEXCEL pupils are making remarkable progress in oral reading fluency and foundational numeracy compared to their last performance before the initiative’s commencement.
To cushion the effect of the pandemic on Lagos State Public primary school pupils, the Lagos State government launched the EKOEXCEL@home initiative, which ensured continued access to learning. The @home programme consisted of self-study activity packets, learning guides, interactive audio sessions, zoom classes, WhatsApp quizzes as well as the distribution of 450,000 mp3s with pre-recorded lessons.
This year’s theme is a follow-up to the last EWF in 2020, which focused on developing children’s digital literacy. Therefore, participants are expected to collaborate and discuss the intersection of technology and education toward achieving progress on the WEF’s agenda on global health, food security, climate change, industry transformation, governance and cybersecurity.