By Kofoworola Belo-Osagie
Monday’s result-sharing session to mark the Third Anniversary of the Edo Education Sector Transformation (EdoBEST) at the Festival Hall of the Government House, Benin, was all about the children.
The pupils gave the welcome address, interviewed Governor Godwin Obaseki, acted a drama and recited poem. From pre-schoolers that were barely five year olds, to primary five and six pupils, they took up the tasks assigned to them with confidence.
Whenever the pupils from various public primary schools across the state took to the stage, the audience expressed delight. “These children are very good,” “they are so confident”, were comments that members of the audience made to those closest to them.
When they took on the governor during the interview, they asked about their future beyond primary school given that EdoBEST, a technology-enabled system that provides teachers with standardised lesson notes and child-centered classroom managerial skills, had rapidly improved learning outcomes at the primary level. They wanted to know if the government had plans to revamp secondary schools and tertiary institutions as well.
Obaseki described EdoBEST as one of his administration’s biggest achievements.
He said the impressive performance of the project had inspired the state to launch the EdoBEST 2.0 to replicate the results in other levels of education.
“This is as far as I am concerned one of our greatest achievements as a government. Today we are going to be unveiling the next phase – EdoBEST 2.0,” he said.
Though learning outcomes had improved and brought pupils in the state’s public schools to the level of 70 percent of what children at the same level knew in Asia, Obaseki said the state would not rest on its oars.
Obaseki was confident that the EdoBEST 2.0 would outlast his administration once people are able to take ownership of the project like they did for first phase.
He said: “We have made progress but we are not where we want to be. We need to accelerate. We don’t have time. Our kids are now learning better – they are about 70 percent of their colleagues in Europe and Asia. They are far from where their colleagues in Nigeria are but that is not the standard. We want to be at 100 percent. We want to extend this outcome throughout the education system – through our basic, secondary, technical schools and tertiary institutions. As long as we get our people to take ownership, it will last,” he said.
Obaseki said with the extension of the initiative, junior secondary schools would fall under the administration of the Edo SUBEB chaired by Dr. Joan Osa Oviawe, saying leadership was critical to the achievement of the state’s objectives.
He also noted that the state would invest heavily in improving technical education and physical infrastructure in schools and campuses.
“We want to make sure that our colleges and universities are of the same standard as the schools we send our children to abroad,” he said.
With EdoBest 2.0., Dr. Oviawe, said this time it is not about basic education but about the state striving to be the best in Nigeria and the world.
She said the state recorded 17 per cent increment in enrolment, improved learning outcomes, dedication from teachers and support from parents – all which would be replicated at higher levels of education.
Teachers are excited about the future of the initiative given the impact they already see in their learners and also in their own levels of proficiency as educators.
A Primary Two teacher at Obaseki Primary School, Benin City, Mrs. Rosemary Ezehiwele, said: “It is amazing; it is wonderful. EdoBEST has really helped in creating a better future in the state. It has enabled them to improve their vocabulary, their thinking ability and logic in mathematics. They can compete globally. I see them being the best in all areas of educational system. There is nothing like truancy as far as EdoBEST is concerned. Learning is made easy and teachers don’t struggle to teach the pupils.
“EdoBEST has made me more competent as a teacher; more committed, more punctual, hard working. There is nothing like truancy, laziness because we are very busy. It has really improved my abilities; it has made me to read more, know more. The difference is visible.”
Another teacher at Idumowu Primary School, Ebele, Igueben, Mr. Michael Osaigbovo, said: “It has impacted on the child, especially in their speaking. Their reading proficiency has improved. In EdoBEST, we do teaching at the right level. We give them literacy specifically for their level. We use sounds and pictures to help them at a younger age. That helped them a lot.”