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How Edo State is tackling the calculus of innovative teaching

How Edo’s progressive school model initiative drives learning inclusion

The innovative reforms of Governor Godwin Obaseki are beginning to yield positive results with Edo State emerging as the state that has the least out of school children in Nigeria. Another round of the training programme was organised in August to consolidate the gains thus far recorded, writes Teliat Sule.

Before the sun rose on the morning of 30 August 2022, selected teachers and school leaders from the state-owned junior secondary and primary schools across Edo State were gathered at Uwa Primary School, Benin city, the state capital.

Their purpose was singular: To undergo the EdoBESTInduction Training, a career-lifting professional development programme for teachers that has revolutionized teaching and learning in Edo State’s basic education ecosystem.

“I’m here with a lot of expectation,” OsamoseBenjamin, principal, Obe Junior Secondary School, Orhionmwon Local Government Area, said on that morning.

Dressed in a three-piece suit and clutching a black suitcase, the sharp-eyed 30-year-in-service man noted that, “I have heard repeatedly that this training changes the way teachers approach their work and how schools are administered. I have come to see and experience it first hand,” he said, as a faint smile appeared on his face.

The world over, professional development for teachers and other stakeholders in the education sector has attracted serious attention in view of fast changing educational requirements that require up-to-date skills to manage.

“Educational technology, school district guidelines and curriculum standards are constantly changing, making it challenging for teachers to keep up with trends and best practices in the field.

Professional development transforms teachers into better and more apt educators by enabling them to create relevant and tailored course instructions for today’s students.

“Research by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences concluded that student achievement can improve by as much as 21 percentile points as a result of teachers’ participation in well-designed professional development programs,” according to Queens University of Charlotte.

This is what the Governor Obaseki-led administration in Edo State has been implementing since assumption of office.

Matching actions with words

In a country where the competence and commitment of teachers have been continuously questioned,teacher professional development programme hasbeen a major focus area of intervention and investment for the Governor Godwin Obaseki led administrationsince its inception.

This move to make teachers 21st century compliant agrees with an earlier message released by UNESCO that most governments of the world are now setting new benchmarks towards attaining education gaols.

An endorsement of the transformation programme implemented thus far in Edo State came from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), that stated recently that Edo State has the least out of school children in Nigeria.

According to UNESCO, out of 20 million out of school children in Nigeria, Edo State has just 79,446, which means the state has the least number of out of school children in Nigeria. This is an unprecedented feat in the south-south geopolitical zone, and Nigeria as a whole.

“A new school year is starting in many parts of the world. This news should bring us joy, but it also reminds us that strong inequalities persist in access to education: 244 million of children are still out of school.

No one can accept this situation. Education is a right and we must do everything to ensure that this right is respected for every child,” Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, said.

This success in unconnected with the innovative ways Godwin Obaseki led administration in Edo State has approached primary and secondary school management and reforms since assumption of office.

It is in furtherance of the transformation that is responsible for the on-going training programme which started on 30 August 2022. The programme was designed to add an additional circa 32,000 Edo children into EdoBEST,Governor Obaseki’s basic education sector intervention programme.

EdoBEST uses a structured teaching and learning methodology endorsed by Nobel Prize-winning Professor of Economics, Michael Kremer as capable of delivering learning gains that supersede traditional teaching methods.

In the first two quarters of 2022 alone, 2,602 teachers, school leaders, Learning and Development Officers (LDOs) and Quality Assurance Officers (QAO) were retrained to enable them deliver on the mandate of giving quality education to pupils in Edo State.

The ongoing training brings together 1,445 teachers and school leaders from the 18 local government areas of Edo State.What is even more interesting is that it is being facilitated by Edo State Universal Basic Education Board (Edo SUBEB) Learning and Development Officers (LDOs) who were strategically groomed to take over the process of continued professional development in the basic education ecosystem.

Additionally, most of the trainees are EdoSTAR teachers who have reduced the teacher deficit in the junior secondary school system by 95%.

This move to make teachers 21st century compliant agrees with an earlier message released by UNESCO that most governments of the world are now setting new benchmarks towards attaining education gaols.

“The majority of governments have now set national benchmarks for progress towards the crucial education goal: it is a sign of serious commitment. But the international community now has the responsibility to boost their efforts by filling the remaining data gaps and by prioritising education funding. It is the only way to respond to identified needs and create a truly transformative impact”, StefaniaGiannini, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education, said in July.

Read also: International Youth Day: How EdoBEST is building an environment where every youth is a winner

Inside the training chambers

The Induction Training is a signature component of Governor Obaseki’s education sector transformation strategy. A customised 10-day training, it is designed to arm educators with skills to deliver quality basic education.

It addresses a cock-tail of modern and emerging education sector themes including the role of technology in the 21st century classroom, modern pupil motivation techniques, child protection strategies, new school administration and classroom management techniques, anti-gender-based violence and child protection strategies as well as other important emerging best practices in education.

Teachers are given hands-on training during the 10-day programme, observed and corrected in practical sessions. Sessions are tailored to provide support to teachers in other facets of teaching ranging from interpretation of the curriculum to understanding the need of pupils with a view to motivating them to succeed.

“Only those who have participated in the training know the depth of what we are being taught here,” Osamose said, having exprienced four days into the programme.

“The facilitators are even teaching us practical ways to work with teachers who we have traditionally termed difficult,” he said, with a sense of new-found seriousness.

“The governor deserves a handshake and hug,” Osamose added.

Also speaking on the impact of the training programme,AghahowaAugustina, a teacher fromAsoro Grammar School, who has been teaching English over a 12-year period noted that her “mentality changed few days into the programme.”

“Before now many of us used to just copy everything in the text books and teach as much as we had time for even if not every student understood it. But with the advanced method of teaching we are being exposed to here, we now know that the students should become friends with their teachers and be free to speak up where necessary,” she noted.

Upskilling for sustainability

Speaking on the first day of training, OzavizeSalami, Executive Chairman, Edo SUBEB noted that, “this is a landmark achievement for us at Edo SUBEB. It is a major step as we extend the education reforms of the Governor Godwin Obaseki led administration to fully incorporate the JS Schools in line with the ongoing JSS disarticulation process.”

“Government is the largest provider of basic education service in the state and we are optimistic that our deliberate investment in teachers through our professional development programmes will lead to measurable improvement in the learning outcomes of all our students located in urban, rural or even hard-to-reach areas.

“The mandate is to sustain the gains made thus far under the reforms in the basic education sector and to domesticate our EdoBEST programme such that it stands as a legacy for the people of Edo State even after this administration is long gone.

“His Excellency, Governor Godwin Obaseki is also committed to closing teacher gaps especially through the EdoSTAR fellowship programme where 3,000 persons have been employed to fill teaching positions in primary and junior secondary schools across the state,” Salami said.

These fellows will benefit from the new minimum wage announced by the governor recently.
Because of the strategic role that teachers play in the basic education ecosystem, Governor Godwin Obaseki is prioritizing teacher professional development as a vehicle for accelerating learning.