Buhari UNGA speech: EkoExcel, education, President Buhari’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly on Friday 24th September 2021 has met with comments both commending and criticising his talking points.

Nigerian education observers can’t complain about education not being a specific part of his speech because the theme of the UNGA was “Building resilience through hope to recover from COVID-19” concentrating on issues such as vaccination, health and economic recovery.

However the UNGA did recommit itself to the goals of SDG4 (Education goal) through General Assembly resolution 74/223 “Education for sustainable development in the framework of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, which UNGA76 has reaffirmed.

Perhaps, the President’s speech could have stressed the importance of education systems as some of the measures needed to recover from the severe impact of the pandemic which affected millions of children globally, however,  his presence at the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) summit with other world leaders in London shows his administration’s commitment to education.

The GPE summit was specifically about education and nothing else, it brought together Heads of State and Governments as well as officials and youth leaders to provide a platform for partners to chart a way forward towards transforming education systems through the exchange of best practices.

The GPE summit tasked member countries to commit to more than just funding domestic education budgets by placing greater emphasis on improving learning outcomes and employing new techniques and methodologies which have been proven to yield better results for students.

At the conclusion of the GPE Summit, President Buhari pledged an education budget increment of 50% over the next 2 years and 100% by 2025, well over and above the 20% global benchmark.

A significant financial pledge has been made to the education sector in Nigeria by President Buhari’s administration as an outcome of the GPE summit.

The hope is that another outcome of the GPE summit for education in Nigeria will be emphasis on improving learning outcomes and employing new techniques and methodologies which have been proven to yield better results for students.

The Buhari government does not have to look too far for initiatives to improve learning outcomes and employ new techniques in education, based on the success already recorded by two trailblazing state government education projects, one of which is EKOEXCEL in Lagos State.

A certain way for this administration to fulfil campaign promises and answer the call to action issued in President Kenyatta’s name ahead of the GPE summit is to place the federal government’s executive might behind leveraging technology-supported learning to improve equity in access to education and investing in strengthening the capacities of teachers and recognising the instrumental role they play in determining learning outcomes.

EKOEXCEL which means EKO Excellence in Child Education and Learning program is Lagos State Government’s statewide program to transform ECCDE and Primary education in all 1016 Lagos State government schools, bringing 21st Century education that is child-centred and enabled by modern practices and technology.

It is Governor Sanwo-Olu’s flagship education project under the THEME’s agenda of his administration, the program is designed to empower and support public school teachers and to increase learning outcomes for children in the classroom.

The program represents the largest ever investment in Lagos state’s basic education system.

It is bringing equity to quality basic education, and in doing so removing the economic limitations for the hundreds of thousands of pupils in the State’s public primary school system.

EKOEXCEL has been selected to be a part of a global education symposium happening from September 28th – 30th 2021.

The symposium is organised by the mEducation Alliance, an international NGO focused on promoting the usage of good EdTech practices and improving the effectiveness of EdTech initiatives globally. mEducation Alliance is dedicated to increasing the demonstrable and sustainable impact of EdTech for learners in formal and non-formal educational settings.

mEducation Alliance is a unique, multi-stakeholder convening platform for government and donor policymakers, other investors, researchers, and practitioners to work together, particularly in lower-resource, developing country contexts.

The 2021 mEducation symposium is focused on using EdTEch to accelerate foundational literacy and numeracy in low resourced contexts, EKOEXCEL has been chosen to be spotlighted during this symposium for its success in bringing quality literacy and numeracy results to all in Lagos state including low income communities.

Presenting EKOEXCEL at the symposium will be Hon. Bayo Adefuye, Permanent Board Member Lagos State Universal Basic Education Board (LASUBEB) representing Nigeria alongside over 145 presenters from more than 38 countries during the virtual event, with EKOXCEL’s slot scheduled for the 30th of September, 2021.

International recognition for EKOEXCEL proves that education in Nigeria can overcome the monumental challenges brought on by Covid19 and other socio-economic factors using the right tools and techniques.

President Buhari did not expressly address education during his speech on September 24th, but Nigeria should be proud of his administration’s commitment to increase the education budget in the next few years.

The jury is still out on how education in Nigeria will gain from this promised increment, but we should all fervently hope the budget increment will be specifically targeted at tangible learning outcomes and the employment of  new techniques and methodologies in education for the benefit of Nigeria’s young learners.

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