For families whose children were either crossing the Edo borders illegally in search of greener pastures or living questionable lifestyles during the human trafficking and irregular migration that peaked in 2016-17, the focus on foundational learning by the governor through the EdoBEST programme was a ray of light.
Education plays a vital role in fostering peace and good governance as it is a powerful catalyst for social progress, conflict resolution, and the establishment of robust governance systems.
The International Education Day is set aside to recognise the importance of education for children worldwide. The theme for this year, ‘Learning for Lasting Peace’ ties into the reason for adopting the globally acclaimed EdoBEST reform programme into the basic education system in Edo State.
Tackling foundational learning poverty
In a Financial Times article, Governor Godwin Obaseki noted that a deciding factor for adopting the reform programme statewide was the need to build an education system that addressed the root causes of human trafficking and irregular migration. This menace plagued Edo state for years before his election.
“The breakdown of the education system — particularly at the basic level — also resulted in a significant learning deficit among young people, which made them unemployable and desperate to find a future elsewhere.
“To transform our entire education system, we launched the Edo Basic Education Sector Transformation (EdoBEST) three years ago. We focused on reforming specific areas: governance and institutions, community participation and partnerships, infrastructure, leadership and — critically — teacher development and curriculum”, Governor Obaseki told the Financial Times.
Education for Lasting Peace
According to UNESCO, “sustaining peace requires a strong foundation of inclusive, democratic and participatory governance, dialogue, solidarity, mutual understanding and cooperation, sustainable development, gender equality and the general realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Education is key to this endeavour.”
To effectively reform basic education on a state-wide scale, there was the need to change the curriculum, and teaching methodology and institutionalise a pedagogy guaranteed to improve learning outcomes for children in the state.
Using education as a tool to drive inclusion, the EdoBEST programme has successfully empowered learners with the necessary knowledge, values, attitudes, skills and behaviours to become agents of peace in their communities.
The EdoBEST reform programme uses a combination of improved learning content and a reformed education system to build a generation of informed and responsible young citizens.
Along with a reformed education system, the Edo state government also put in place measures to safeguard, enlighten and sensitise the over 380,000 children who attend EdoBEST schools on the right skills, attitudes and values to imbibe, making them stellar ambassadors of their societies.
In every state-owned basic school, a guidance and counselling unit was established with a qualified counsellor on hand to attend to students and address socio-cultural issues that might lead to discrimination, hate speech, abuse and harassment.
In line with the initiative by the First Lady, Mrs Betsy Obaseki, every basic education school in Edo state has a “Speak Out Club”, an anti-GBV club that encourages children to speak out on cases of targeted abuse, discrimination and the steps to take in mitigating it.
360 Support System
Teachers play a vital role in driving education reforms, especially one as revolutionary as the EdoBEST programme. Every EdoBEST teacher is trained to not just educate children under their care, but to nurture, build and transform lives through their interactions with the children.
EdoBEST teachers are trained in classroom management systems, teaching methodologies and the EdoBEST pedagogy that uses a combination of teaching methods driven by technology integration, interactive learning modules, and collaborative projects thus redefining the teaching-learning experience.
Addressing the ongoing recruitment efforts by Edo State Universal Basic Education Board to fill teacher gaps in schools, the Executive Chairman, Edo SUBEB, Mrs Ozavize Salami noted that these teachers will join the cadre of trained professionals who are tasked with the responsibility of nurturing the younger generations and raising role models.
She said “On this International Day of Education, we take pride in our role as educators, moulding minds, and shaping a brighter future. Through our ongoing recruitment efforts, aiming to significantly reduce teacher gaps by bringing in over 5,500 new teachers into the basic education system, we reaffirm our commitment to the silver bullet notion that advocates the teacher as the singular most important resource for achieving consequential and sustainable gains in the sector over the long term.”
The International Day of Education is celebrated every January 24th. This year’s celebration is dedicated to the crucial role education and teachers play in countering hate speech, a phenomenon which has snowballed in recent years with the use of social media, damaging the fabric of our societies.
Ikechukwu Johnson is a Public Affairs Analyst writes from Edo State