EdoBEST visits the World Bank

15 November 2018

Did you know there is an unprecedented education transformation taking place in a famous region of Nigeria? In Edo State, the home of Benin city,  over 150,000 students are now receiving an improved education using advanced pedagogy and technology from 7,000 newly retrained government school teachers. All this, in only six months. Indications are that this education innovation may be unprecedented in scale and speed for  Africa, transforming an education system faster than anyone thought possible, while giving primary age students an immediate chance to catch up and get ahead.

This program is the Edo State Basic Education Sector Transformation, known as “EdoBEST.” EdoBEST was launched in 2018 by the  visionary and reformist local leader Governor Obaseki, and is led by the Chair of his Education Board who has dedicated her career to Nigerian education, Dr. Joan Oviawe. The program is supported by all aspects of civil society in the state, including parents, teaching unions, and community leaders.

Bridge was asked to take on the role of technical partner for the teacher training, technology development, instructional design, and systems management. The initiative aims to enable a rapid improvement in learning across Edo’s public primary and secondary junior schools.

The excitement around EdoBEST led USAID to invite the programme to Washington, DC to keynote at their 8th annual mEducation Alliance Symposium and a small delegation flew  out from Nigeria. The delegation was led by Dr. Oviawe, Executive Chairman of Edo State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), along with two EdoBEST teachers from her state’s public-school system: Mabel Omionawele, Headmaster of the St. Saviours Primary School, and Vivian Iguisi, a Primary 3 teacher from Evboriaria Primary School. Ensuring that those who are directly impacted by the program, can share their experience with policy makers is key to understanding its potential.

(Middle) Jaime Saavedra, Head of Education at the World Bank, flanked by (L) Adesuwa Ifedi VP, Policy & Partnerships, Bridge International Academies; Mabel Omionawele EdoBEST teacher; Joan Oviawe, Chairman of Edo SUBEB, and; Vivian Iguisi, EdoBEST teacher – during their visit to World Bank in Washington, DC USA.

As part of their visit the EdoBEST team spent time with both the World Bank and the IFC discussing program implementation and ambition, before leading the keynote presentation entitled: “Leveraging Technology to Leapfrog Nigerian Teachers in Delivering Tomorrow’s Workforce,” at USAID’s symposium. The symposium, which brought together approximately 300 leading minds and practitioners in the field of information and communications technology for education (ICT4E), allowed the EdoBEST team to present its successful and rapid implementation of teacher-centric improvements and low-cost technologies to improve learning outcomes, in the impoverished State. The overall theme of the symposium centred on, “Using technology to scale support for teachers and community educators in low-resource environments,” with sub-themes such as “in and out-of-school classroom instruction,” and “teacher professional development,” to name a few.

During the week’s meetings and USAID presentation, Dr. Oviawe focused her remarks on the importance of the state’s reform to tackle administrative and capability challenges, improving lines of communication and accountability throughout the system, while investing deeply in teachers to empower and excite them in the classroom.  

She noted that, “teachers are now showing up to class more than ever and many have direct lines of communication and accountability which they did not before.” Teacher Vivian noted that: “Before, if we wanted to get teacher training, we had to ‘incentivise officials’ or we could not attend. Even then, the training was not very good. I could tell this new EdoBEST training was different the moment I arrived. We learned to exchange corporal punishment for positive reinforcement and its effectiveness shows in how motivated and excited the pupils are now”

Nigerian Headteacher, Mabel noted that “we used to use textbooks from the 1980s, if we had any at all. We now have the teacher computers for each teacher and for me as the Headteacher to manage all my teachers. We do check-ins daily and the culture in my school has changed entirely.”

First signs from EdoBEST have been positive; with teachers showing up to classrooms who are more confident and more motivated than ever. We look forward to the time when this transformation and expansion of teaching capacity begins to bear fruit – an educated and optimistic Nigerian youth in, and a better future for, Edo State.

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