As Faith Imafidon reads a passage from her English textbook, a look of joy can be seen on her face as she glides across the words easily. This was impossible for her a year ago, but thanks to the adoption of her school into the EdoBEST programme, she is making steady progress.
Like Faith, the academic fortunes of many other children in Edo state have changed because of EdoBEST. Whether in rural or urban centres, the testimonies keep coming.
It all started when Governor Godwin Obaseki decided that something must be done about the slide in academic indices in Edo state schools. The governor launched EdoBEST with a vision of investing in the educational system for the benefit of today’s children who are the leaders of tomorrow.
Every year, the world celebrates International Day of Education, not just to remember the importance of education, but also to draw attention to the role individuals, groups and leadership can play in advancing the cause of education and developing society.
Incidentally, as the world marks International Day of Education, the theme of the celebration: to invest in people, and prioritise education resonates with what Governor Obaseki has done in Edo state.
During the launch of EdoBEST, Governor Godwin Obaseki noted that he wanted to start the reform at the base because it is important to get the foundation of education right.
Investing in Children
It is the right of every child to receive a quality education as education plays an integral role in shaping the future of children and society.
In a Financial Times article published in 2021, the governor noted that “our aim was to deliver standardised learning outcomes to all primary school children across Edo State by supporting teachers to focus on their pupils. That required tough political decisions, including an overhaul of the State Universal Basic Education Board.”
The introduction of the EdoBEST programme to rural, migrant and hard-to-reach areas in Edo state was not just an extension of the programme but an investment in the communities as it provided jobs for more teachers, brought development to the communities and improved learning outcomes in the areas.
Children like Faith who live in very rural communities had the benefit of life-changing education for the first time because of the technology that EdoBEST introduced into education in Edo state.
Investing in Teachers
Reiterating his administration’s commitment to investing in people, Governor Godwin Obaseki noted that “teachers remain the most valuable resource in the delivery of transformational public basic education and this justifies our resolve to prioritize their recruitment, replacement and upskilling.”
As a pillar of the EdoBEST programme, innovative teaching requires upskilling teachers with the necessary skills to drive technology-driven reform. It also required a complete overhaul of the civil service system.
Teachers and school leaders were taken through a 10-day intensive training that covered areas of classroom management, child handling, the use of technology and child safety to ensure that administrative and teaching services were delivered in a manner that improved learning outcomes.
The governor noted that the reform focused on specific areas like governance and institutions, community participation and partnerships, infrastructure, leadership and teacher development and curriculum.
“We applied technology to re-engineer the entire cycle of delivery and accountability while redesigning teacher support, welfare and training to foster success in the classroom,” said the governor in a statement in the Financial Times.
As the world celebrates the International Day of education, this year’s celebration is a significant one because it marks the midpoint since the convention that birthed the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 24 January as the International Day of Education, celebrating the role of education in peace and development.