After four years of the introduction of the Edo Basic Education Sector Transformation (Edo- BEST) programme and other education sector reforms by the Edo State Government-led by Governor Godwin Obaseki, the education transformation initiatives have become reference points in the country and Africa by extension, the government has said. Prior to the launch of Edo- BEST, the basic education sector in Edo State was lukewarm and uninspiring, where most teachers were hardly in school, while many of them taught in vernacular, especially in the rural areas and some teachers did not even teach while in school.
Based on the poor state of the schools, pupils in public primary schools were unable to compete with their peers in the private school system. But the Chairman EdoSUBEB, Mrs. Ozavize Salami has said that the introduction of EdoBEST had bridged the gap largely as reports on the performance of the intervention indicated that the standard of basic education in the state had improved tremendously.
Attesting to the efficiency of the EDOBEST programme, the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, at the maiden edition of Ekiti Fountain Summit which was organised by the Ekiti State Government to spotlight the impact of education, technology and security on national development, said the programme adopted by the his administration is working effectively He, however, described the Edo Basic Education Sector Transformation programme as an acrossthe- board basic education reform initiative launched by Governor Obaseki in April 2018, saying: “We are currently doing something we consider as peer review.
I usually concede and acknowledge Governor Obaseki because I copied something from him and it is working three times in Lagos.” On the impact of the programme on the basic education sub-sector, Mrs. Salami said there was evidence that Governor Obaseki’s education reforms are paying off, even as she added that the rate of learning in numeracy doubled in eight weeks after implementation of EdoBEST in the state. Besides, the EDOBEST programme, the SUBEB chair pointed out more than doubled the percentage of teachers present in the classroom within the first year of implementation, while it also accelerated reading fluency to 70 per cent – that of High-Income Countries – versus 25 per cent for other Low-Income Countries within the first three years.
She said: “All of this had a major impact on enrolment as public school enrollment in two years increased by 17 per cent; infrastructure was also impacted in the first two years of the programme as no fewer than 204 classrooms were constructed; 37,629 pupil desks and chairs were distributed, and 32 perimeter fences were constructed within the period.
“Primary schools were also equipped with over 11 million instructional materials including examination materials, textbooks, posters, homework books, flashcards and supplementary literacy remediation books. While marking the third anniversary of EDOBEST programme on June 28, 2021, where Governor Obaseki unveiled the Edo- BEST 2.0, some of the development partners, including the World Bank, KOICA, local and sub-national stakeholders reiterated their confidence in the programme.
The aim of the EdoBEST 2.0 is to expand the EdoBEST initiative into junior secondary schools at the moment. Basking in the euphoria of the landmark achievements of the programme so far, the new SUBEB Chairman, Mrs. Salami promised to ensure that all the gains of Edo- BEST were spread to junior secondary school. To ensure this, she on assumption of office undertook a tour of schools, and noted that the wheels of reform must continue to move. Mrs. Salami, who said that research, technology and data were the backbone of EdoBEST implementation, stressed that before the programme was launched, comprehensive research was undertaken to understand the gaps within the basic education system. “The needs of key stakeholders including teachers, pupils, parents and community leaders and dwellers were identified and workable solutions were incorporated into the EdoBEST reform,” she added.
To bridge identified gaps within the teaching force, professional development in the form of training was undertaken in the early stages of programme implementation, while to ensure sustainability, continuous professional development and ongoing quality assurance services were provided to teachers across the state. Under the EDOBEST, so far, over 11,000 teachers and SUBEB staff had been up-skilled and over 2,000 new teachers had been recruited and deployed to the school system, while more are expected in the next few months. For effective implementation of the programme, teachers in the EdoBEST programme have been equipped with tablets to ease classroom management and lesson delivery, while during school hours, standardised instructional materials are sent to the tablets so that pupils in urban, semi-urban and rural areas all receive the same quality of education.
The tablets are used to monitor lesson completion, teacher availability in schools, marking of teacher and pupil attendance. This has stemmed the tide of teacher absenteeism and poor lesson completion rates in the system. A teacher at FSP Benin City, while lauding the EDOBEST programme, said: “EdoBEST has exposed us to computers. That many of us use android phones today is the result of what we experience with the EdoBEST tablets. It opened our eyes,” she said. At a stakeholders’ event in Benin in August, Governor Obaseki said: “The inheritance that we can bequeath to our children is not only houses and landed properties.
Indeed, if they are uneducated or poorly educated, they will squander such investments.” “The best inheritance is education,” he had told the audience made up of parents, union leaders, teachers, religions and traditional leaders while encouraging them to play their part in sustaining the infrastructure development which the state government has recorded in the last five years. As part of moves to boost the implementation of EDOBEST, the governor has announced a technical education revival plan that would ensure that his administration establishes technical colleges in all local government areas of the state to provide manpower for the industries and ensure self-reliance in the state.
We are determined to transform the education sector and properly direct the state’s resources to develop human capacity,” Obaseki said, adding that the rehabilitation of existing technical colleges has been consistent. Recently, the governor got the approval of the National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE) for the establishment of the Edo State Colleges of Education, with three campuses in Abudu, Igueben and Afuze to address the teacher needs of the state and country. Besides, the Federal Government has also approved the establishment of a Federal College of Education (Technical) in Ekiadolor to train teachers in technical subjects, while Governor Obaseki’s administration has invested in the restructuring Edo State College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, with three campuses in Iguoriakhi, Agenebode and Uromi.