When panelists were asked to mention one word that represents their perspective of how African Governments can harness the science of education to drive learning gains at a webinar recently, “Collaboration” was the word that Mrs. Folasade Adefisayo, Commissioner of Education, Lagos State chose.
But that was not the first time she had hinted on the power of “Collaboration” at the webinar which was organized by NewGlobe, a social enterprise organization silently revolutionizing learning outcomes in countries including the U.S., Nigeria, India, Kenya among others.
Indeed, her choice of word mirrored the strategy of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) which has explored collaboration to deliver quality education to at least 25 million children in over 30 low-income countries in the past six years.
By year-end 2017, the collaboration between GPE, the World Bank Group and other partners berthed projects valued at $1.6 billion, in addition to $1.1 billion in International Development Association (IDA) co-financed projects.
“We have an education transformation plan in Lagos State that has 15 objectives,” an excited Mrs. Adefisayo told the audience drawn from across Africa and beyond. “The 10th objective is to engage with the private sector in developing education. We must be able to work with corporate organizations, communities and even old students’ associations,” to deepen education, she noted while highlighting the activities of her ministry in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital.
This tradition of collaboration and partnerships has made Lagos more agile than most Nigerian states in responding to challenges facing the education sector. It is also discernable in Lagos’ choice of partners, events and programs.
A stitch in time
Following the outbreak of Covid-19, the Lagos State Ministry of Education is reputed to have moved quickly and forged close ties with radio and television stations, technology enabling organizations and other private sector stakeholders to deliver lessons to pupils across the states in their homes.
Recognizing that most children in rural communities could not afford radio sets, funds were quickly raised to equip disadvantaged pupils with the gadgets. Success at the early stage of the program inspired the involvement of a consortium from the private sector that helped the ministry acquire more radios sets and lessons enabling gadgets. Eventually, the government filled all gaps.
“It is important for governments to realize that there is a lot of potential in the private sector committing to support government,” Mrs. Adefisayo who is also a merit award winner of the Federal Republic of Nigeria said.
A major lesson from the experience of Lagos is that governments must be clear and transparent about their goals and long-term objectives in the education sector. The private sector has to believe in what government is doing. On their part, governments must find a way to sell their vision to the private sector.
“We must have a plan, vision and political skills to use data to formulate policy. Because the private sector will only invest in a policy that is sure to deliver on objectives,” Mrs. Adefisayo noted.
Collaborating for results
A novel method that has been explored by the Lagos ministry of education is partnerships with sister ministries.
For instance, to execute student related education projects that bother on agriculture, partnership and collaborations are explored with the ministry of agriculture. This model is replicated for projects which bother on other economic sectors.
This strategy has obliterated previously insurmountable technical and funding gaps that schools grappled with for decades. It has delivered quality learning opportunities to students and learning opportunities to teachers across the state.
As underscored by other panelists at the webinar, African governments need technical partners that can deploy technology to ensure quality in education. NewGlobe, which organised the webinar has done commendable work in this direction.
An education expert and leader in learning, NewGlobe has unequalled experience in dramatically transforming educational outcomes at speed and scale. It has an unprecedented ability to gather and apply data-driven learning improvements across every aspect of the education system, providing a strong foundation for today’s youth and tomorrow’s future.
Embracing the future
In Lagos State, the EKOEXCEL basic education program, is a prime example of NewGlobe’s approach to education. Tens of thousands of government teachers have been re-trained and are now supported to teach in a digital and scientific way. Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu invested in EKOEXCEL to change the learning outcomes from schools in Lagos. The approach new is paying off already.
The Lagos State Education Board notes that EKOEXCEL is dramatically accelerating learning, with children learning two times more maths and three times more in literacy.
In the same vein, Edo State has adopted a model worth emulating at the national level. The Edo State Government, led by Governor Godwin Obaseki, implemented the Edo Basic Education Sector Transformation (EdoBEST) programme to improve basic education across the state three years ago. Through EdoBEST, the government is transforming learning outcomes for over 300,000 children across 1,029 public primary and 471 junior secondary schools in Edo State and the results are commendable.
The collaborative efforts of the Lagos and Edo government are models which the Federal Ministry of Education and the Federal Government should adopt, especially in states where educational indices remain worrisome. To be sure, there are partners who have delivered on learning objectives across continents already. These helplines should be explored.
The webinar which drew a panel of education experts, high level officials and policymakers from across Africa was put together to discuss and debate how governments on the continent can drive transformative educational change.