• Tuesday, July 16, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

EdoBEST brought paradigm shift to basic education delivery – Bobboyi

EdoBEST brought paradigm shift to basic education delivery – Bobboyi

Over 200 basic education sector thought leaders, including 36 State Universal Board Chairmen (SUBEB) Chairmen and the Management of the Universal Education Commission Board (UBEC) were hosted by OZAVIZE SALAMI, Chairman, Edo SUBEB in a four-day meeting recently. The gathering enabled them to study the EdoBEST model. HAMID BOBBOYI, executive secretary of UBEC spoke about his vision for basic education in Nigeria and how EdoBEST is a pace setter. TELIAT SULE monitored the interview. Excerpts:

What are the major issues with universal basic education service delivery in Nigeria?

Universal Basic Education is the foundation of all that we do. It guarantees how far we can get our children to be responsible citizens and how far we can equip and skill them to help them scale through other spheres of our educational system, making sure that they build themselves and subsequently the country.

The second point is that Nigeria has the largest basic education sector in the World. At the moment, we have about 42 million kids in primary school. Anybody trying to oversee this system must be in a position to first and foremost, mobilize the stakeholders to be on the same page.

Everybody working in the system: the parents, the traditional institutions, the education services providers in different states; we must make sure that we do not disappoint the Nigerian child.

Secondly, looking at the resources, Nigeria is not spending enough on basic education. If you look at the figures in the national budget, and even if you look at the percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) being spent on basic education in Africa, we are not doing so well. The idea is to see how do we mobilize resources, how do we provide more resources at the federal level and at the state level. Let us not forget that in our constitution, basic education is a local government and state affair but UBEC as an agency is making an effort to support state and local governments to ensure that we discharge this particular mandate because we feel that it is our responsibility not only to provide basic education but it is also our responsibility to sustain and develop Nigeria.

Read also: Microsoft out with new technology to enable small businesses grow, compete

Technology is an enabler of development. How relevant has technology become in basic education services delivery?

In the 21st century, we have to come to the realization that our success is dependent on the level at which we can incorporate technology in whatever we do. Remember what used to happen with our old analogue telephone, where we used to try to do lots of things. Nobody ever imagined that within a short period of time you could have mobile telephones; that you could see the picture of the person you are talking to. The digital platforms have transformed our lives.

Nigeria at the moment is still grappling with basic issues like how do we provide the classrooms; our SUBEB is making sure they are able to buy chalk and buy exercise books or encouraging parents to buy exercise books or leveraging on hard copy textbooks and so on and so forth.

The time has come, and we have no option. It is not something that we have to now sit down and start asking ourselves whether it is appropriate or not. No, we must information and communication technology, into what we do at the basic education level.

EdoBEST brought this particular development within the basic education sector and it is very important for us to appreciate the paradigm shift

At the level of UBEC, we had to look at it critically. First and foremost is about digital literacy where we can train our teachers to understand the use of IT. We can give them the resources in terms of initially having computer laboratories because these are the basic places where people can understand what computers are all about.

At the moment, we have the e-learning programme where we are establishing and connecting schools. Having hubs in every senatorial district in the country and we hope that very soon we will have the connectivity through V-sat and other mediums. And this is for the rural and semi-urban populations.

Within the next few months, the schools will be ready. They are smart schools. This is a paradigm change where our children can come into a school and begin learning using these digital platforms from day one from nursery, primary and junior secondary school.

And our hope is that this platform can help us to provide the necessary support that our children need to prepare them to compete effectively, not only with children in Nigeria but with their peers in other parts of the world.

We have become a global village as we continue to say but in this global village, we need to make sure that our children can compete effectively, promote and defend Nigeria.

What lessons can other states learn through the EdoBEST programme, particularly in technology adoption?

We have to first understand why we need EdoBEST. I was part of it from inception in 2017 when Godwin Obaseki invited me to be part of the strategic planning sessions he was organizing.

Basic education in Edo State was in very dire straits back then: Problems of dilapidated classrooms; teachers’ absenteeism; parents not supporting schools, and encroachments even within school facilities.

These made Governor Obaseki realise that something must change, and he made conscious effort to see how he could invest in basic education and have a paradigm shift that could put Edo back on its own trail of development and excellence that it has been known for throughout Nigeria and the World.

So EdoBEST came up with very specific objectives in terms of how do you first and foremost ensure that you have the content that could be used in the classroom. Don’t forget that one of the key issues with the basic education sector is with instructional materials.

Now, what system could be developed to ensure that the materials are available and that the teachers go to the classroom to teach? Based on the surveys that were conducted, it was observed that 20 percent of the teachers were in the school but they would not go into the classrooms. And how do you make teaching exciting and the children responsive and open?

EdoBEST emerged out of this particular environment, whereby the teacher comes, he or she is trained and is given a tablet and the tablet has all the materials required through EdoBEST.

It was a revolution. You can keep on buying textbooks and so on and so forth but here you have all the lesson notes which have been scripted, every morning the lessons are sent to the teacher directly, he or she goes through it and understands it.

The tablet records what goes on in the school and within the classroom in the sense that if the tablet has been used it will be recorded in the server. If the tablet is not used it is also recorded. These are all parts of the public record, so that the teacher becomes a kind of facilitator that can make a difference in teaching and learning.

EdoBEST brought this particular development within the basic education sector and it is very important for us to appreciate the paradigm shift.

How has the outbreak of Covid-19 affected basic education service delivery?

When the Covid-19 pandemic ravaged nations across the globe in 2020, the education sector in Nigeria was severely affected as many learners had to stay at home for a very long time without any form of teaching and learning taking place.

That period gave us a reason to look inwards on ways and strategies to adopt towards mitigating future occurrence that could hinder continuing education even when not in school, hence, the intervention areas embarked upon by the Commission. UBEC is working hard to ensure equitable and quality basic education for all children of school going age and we will not relent in our mandate.