Two years after the last in person edition of the Education World Forum (EWF), Heads of State education and skills ministers have another opportunity to compare notes and strategize for growth.

EWF 2022 is important not only because of the large number of Political and thought leaders it attracts, but also because of the theme and focus of deliberations – Education: building forward together; stronger, bolder, better.

Nigeria will be one of the most influential countries at the Education World Forum this year, for the reason that – unlike many others – some of its State Governors have implemented education transformation programmes designed to deliver better opportunities for their youth.

Attending this 2022 EWF conference, from Nigeria are the Commissioner for Education, Edo State Dr. Joan Osa Oviawe and Executive Chairman Edo State Universal Basic Education Board, Mrs. Ozavize Salami who will share with the world the success of Edo State’s basic education transformation project, Edo Basic Education Sector Transformation (EdoBEST). Also, at this year’s EWF conference is the Executive Chairman Lagos State Universal Basic Education (LASUBEB) Board Hon. Wahab Alawiye-King supported by Mrs Taiye Oguntona, Director Administration and Human Resources, LASUBEB who are expected to share the giant strides achieved by the EKO Excellence in Child Education and Learning (EKOEXCEL), Lagos state’s education transformation project.

Many Governments are looking for new solutions that will help them not only re-build their education systems and combat the learning losses that have impacted their populations but build back better – putting in place systems that drive learning and enable success. Nigeria is showcasing them.

Undoubtedly, the pandemic exposed the fragility of many aspects of public systems as it brought to the fore the need to deal headlong with long-standing and emerging challenges facing education systems.

For instance, by April 2020, circa 91% of the global student population (1.6 billion students) were impacted by school shutdowns. Disadvantaged groups and emerging economies were worst impacted as inequality in access to digital learning opportunities – and therefore the ability to learn from home – became more obvious.

In Nigeria, a handful of novel initiatives bridged the gap during the pandemic. A sterling example is EdoBEST@Home. Initiated by EdoBEST (a state government basic education sector reform programme), EdoBEST@Home kept hundreds of pupils in both well-served and underserved communities learning through over 800 virtual WhatsApp classrooms and a mobile phone-based interactive quiz system available to pupils in urban and hard-to-reach areas. In Lagos, EKOXCEL (the flagship transformation programme in the State) implemented the largest tech roll out in Africa, delivering nearly half a million MP3 players to pupils to support remote learning.

As leaders press forward to try and achieve SDG4, all hands must be on deck to tackle education sector fault lines that were made more obvious by the pandemic. The United Nations notes that 20 years of education gains were wiped out by the pandemic. 2030 is just 8 years away.

Inequality, inefficient school networks, poorly supported teachers and out of school factors are systemic barriers that education sector policy makers continue to grapple with in many countries. This needs to be addressed or development and economic growth will remain elusive.
To “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all,” models that work in the global south must be placed on the table at EWF 2022 and adopted creatively in developed and emerging economies.
In Nigeria, the EdoBEST, EkoEXCEL and KwaraLEARN programmes have been identified as leading examples of how the support of technical partners can deliver state-wide public education transformation in a prudent, accelerated and efficient manner.

Backed by a technical partner – NewGlobe – with the necessary pedagogical and technical skills to manage a modern school system, improve learning outcomes and develop teacher professional competences have drastically improved in the three Nigerian states that own the programmes.

First in line was Edo, which owns the EdoBEST programme. As news and evidence of progress in the system became more pervasive, the Lagos state government, and more recently, Kwara state adopted home-grown versions of the EdoBEST programme.

In each of the states, teachers now have the necessary skills to integrate digital technology into the learning process in more than 1,300 public schools in Edo state and more than 1,000 public schools in Lagos.

These public-school systems, which were performing far below their potential, have been upgraded and are ensuring that digital technology provides equitable and inclusive access to education.

As expected, EWF 2022 will focus on new thinking in planning and development of education systems to support individual and collective resilience that promotes economic development.

Indeed, as education systems emerge from the lull of the past few months, it is important to compare notes and examine how thought leaders are finding, or have found, ways to build resilience for their education systems and people.

The forum will provide an opportunity to highlight the contribution that education can or should make in economies. For countries like Nigeria, which has 10 million out-of-school children, and an estimated 70million pupils who are in school but are not learning, state governments have to take notice of homegrown solutions which work, and adopt them.

By absorbing the details of showcased programs, and learning from countries like Nigeria that have taken their education destinies in their hands, delegates will take home concrete ideas on how to build a stronger, bolder and better future for the millions of citizens who have come to know that there is a complex nexus between education and sustained economic growth.

By Dr. KUNBI WURAOLA, Director Policy and Partnerships, Africa, NewGlobe

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