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UNGA-76: President Buhari speech on education, covid recovery

President Buhari at UNGA-76

President Buhari has once again taken centre space on the global stage; placing Nigeria and his vision for the country at the heart of global conversations.

The President’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Friday 24th September 2021 has met with comments both commendations and critiques.

But for those in the education sector, still riding high on the comments and commitments made by the President at the Global Education Summit (GPE) earlier in the year there is much to discuss. Beneath many of the conversations; lay an absence of data. The tracking, managing and measuring of progress.

Read also: UNGA-76: Buhari returns, asked to help stabilise West Africa

On the surface, the theme of this year’s UNGA was “Building resilience through hope to recover from COVID-19”. Largely the agenda concentrated on issues such as vaccination, health and economic recovery.

Yet, underpinning all of this is better education; and better education outcomes require effective use of data to track, measure and adapt to ensure progress. UNGA did overtly recommit itself to the goals of SDG4 (Education goal) through General Assembly resolution 74/223 “Education for sustainable development in the framework of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, which UNGA76 has reaffirmed.

For some, the President’s speech could have once again stressed the importance of rebuilding education systems as a key of the measures needed to rebuild after the pandemic. There is no doubt of his commitment, following his presentation at the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) summit with other world leaders in London.

The GPE summit was specifically about education and nothing else, it brought together Heads of State and Governments as well as officials and youth leaders to provide a platform for partners to chart a way forward towards transforming education systems through the exchange of best practices.

The GPE summit tasked member countries to commit to more than just funding domestic education budgets by placing greater emphasis on improving learning outcomes and employing new techniques and methodologies which have been proven to yield better results for students.

At the conclusion of the GPE Summit, President Buhari pledged an education budget increment of 50% over the next 2 years and 100% by 2025, well over and above the 20% global benchmark.

A significant financial pledge has been made to the education sector in Nigeria by President Buhari’s administration as an outcome of the GPE summit. The hope is this commitment will lead to improved learning outcomes, employing new techniques and methodologies which have been proven to yield better results for students in some of Nigeria’s states.

The Buhari government does not have to look too far for initiatives to improve learning outcomes and employ new techniques in education, based on the success already recorded by two trailblazing state government education projects. One of such is the EKOEXCEL in Lagos State.

This is a certain way for this administration to fulfil campaign promises and answer the call to action issued in President Kenyatta’s name ahead of the GPE summit is to place the federal government’s executive might behind leveraging technology-supported learning to improve equity in access to education and investing in strengthening the capacities of teachers, recognising the instrumental role they play in determining learning outcomes.

EKOEXCEL (Excellence in Child Education and Learning) is Lagos State Government’s statewide program to transform ECCDE and Primary education in all 1016 Lagos State government schools, bringing 21st Century education that is child-centred and enabled by modern practices and technology.

It is Governor Sanwo-Olu’s flagship education project under the THEME’s agenda of his administration, the program is designed to empower and support public school teachers and to increase learning outcomes for children in the classroom. The program represents the largest ever investment in Lagos state’s basic education system. It is bringing equity and in doing so removing the economic limitations for the hundreds of thousands of pupils in the State’s public primary school system.

EKOEXCEL has been selected to be a part of a global education symposium happening from September 28th – 30th 2021. The symposium is organised by the mEducation Alliance, an international membership organization focused on promoting the usage of good EdTech practices and improving the effectiveness of EdTech initiatives globally.

mEducation Alliance is dedicated to increasing the demonstrable and sustainable impact of EdTech for learners in formal and non-formal educational settings. mEducation Alliance is a unique, multi-stakeholder convening platform for government and donor policymakers, other investors, researchers, and practitioners to work together, particularly in lower-resource, developing country contexts.

The 2021 mEducation symposium is focused on using EdTEch to accelerate foundational literacy and numeracy in low resourced contexts, EKOEXCEL has been chosen to be spotlighted during this symposium for its success in bringing quality literacy and numeracy results to all in Lagos state including low-income communities. Presenting EKOEXCEL at the symposium will be Hon.

Bayo Adefuye, permanent board member Lagos State Universal Basic Education Board (LASUBEB) representing Nigeria alongside over 145 presenters from more than 38 countries during the virtual event, with EKOXCEL’s slot scheduled for the 30th of September, 2021.

EKOEXCEL is a model for not only education transformation but for the effective collation and use of data to improve systems. It is one of the ways that Nigeria will build resilience and economic growth as it recovers from COVID19.

President Buhari did not expressly address education during his speech on September 24th, but Nigeria should be proud of his administration’s commitment to increase the education budget in the next few years and the central place that Nigeria is taking on the world stage.