Showcasing Methodology Proven in Nigeria as Scalable Solution for the UN Transforming Education Summit

Education methodology used in Lagos, Edo & Kwara public schools has proven to deliver ‘among the largest learning gains in Africa’ and practical system transformation for African Governments.

Government leaders and educationists from across the world are convening in New York for the United Nations (UN) inaugural Transforming Education Summit. The summit is a response to the global learning crisis and is focused on identifying education transformation programmes proven to work at scale.

The UN summit is taking place against a backdrop of growing evidence about the unprecedented scale of the learning crisis and an increasingly public acknowledgement by leaders that the 2030 SDG-4 goal – the provision of quality education for all by 2030- will not be met.

President Muhammadu Buhari addressed the “Transforming Education Summit “on the sidelines of the 77th Session of the UN General Assembly, during which he proclaimed Nigeria as a champion country and committed to greater inclusive and innovation for education in the country. Nigeria has a lot to contribute to other global leaders, funders, policymakers and political leaders focus on identifying solutions that are already being implemented at scale by national Governments and are proven to improve learning outcomes.

Nigeria is one of the only countries present at the inaugural UN Transforming Education summit that can showcase practical programmes transforming education systems at Statewide level. Three states in Nigeria, Edo, Lagos and most recently Kwara have implemented wide scale education transformation projects in partnership with NewGlobe utilizing a holistic methodology that delivers results. The success of this model lies in the fact that it is holistic, there is not one single component that drives success but rather an intricate system built upon four core aspects: A digital learning platform, adaptive instructional content, training and coaching, and 360 degree support. Within this holistic system are many sets of practices, such as school management, learning and development, instructional guidance, and feedback. NewGlobe has established expectations for each of these practice sets and correspondingly continuously supports to ensure consistency and excellence.

Partnering with State governments In Nigeria, NewGlobe is strengthening education systems in Edo (EdoBEST), Lagos (EKOEXCEL) and Kwara (KwaraLEARN) and by extension delivering life-changing education solutions to children in hard-to-reach and urban communities. These states have adopted the attainment of SDG-4 as a strategy for enshrining future economic prosperity, peace and stability.

KwaraLEARN is the most recent implementation of this program in Nigeria starting in May 2022. His Excellency the executive governor of Kwara State who was also present at the UNGA in New York as part of President Buhari’s entourage, had this to say about the program “getting education right from the foundation would support the state government’s achievements in infrastructural development, agriculture, technology and social services, as well as open up new vistas of opportunities that will promote common good”. He further said, our flagship education programme takes the baton from pre-existing transformation programmes in Lagos and Edo states, both of which are local solutions already delivering value. We have understudied and have now made it fit for our own system here in Kwara State,”.

The methodology underpinning these education transformation projects has been scientifically proven to deliver transformational change, a major new study by Nobel Prize Winner, Professor Michael Kremer, suggests that children living in underserved communities receive 53% more learning in NewGlobe-supported schools over the course of their early childhood and primary school career. 

As World Leaders convene to discuss solutions to learning poverty these kinds of established successes should take center stage especially as the World Bank’s recently published Western and Central African Strategy on the Education Sector highlights a number of targets that may not be achieved. This first regional strategy published in 20 years, suggests that the SDG4 target will not be hit and that the World Bank will consider it a success if two thirds of the region’s children remain in learning poverty. Given the success of the NewGlobe methodology the world can easily be more ambitious for education in countries like Nigeria. Beyond optimism, concerted effort, budget allocation and political will as employed in NewGlobe’s current projects in Nigeria is necessary because the national education challenge is vast.

According to the latest if disputed data from UNESCO, circa 20 million Nigerian children are out of school while 70% of those in school are not learning. This points to the fact that Nigeria is in a dire education crisis. Currently Nigeria’s  6% budget allocation to Education, falls way below the 15-20% recommended by UNESCO at the Dakar summit. Going by President Buhari’s commitment to increase education budget allocation by 50% in 2 years  at the 2021 GPE summit, little improvement will be achieved in the short term. The issue of learning poverty however goes beyond mere budget increments to the utilization of new technology and innovations to tackle the education challenge in Nigeria.

A joint report published in June 2022 by the World Bank, UNESCO, UNICEF, UK government Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), USAID, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation states that as a  result of the worst shock to education and learning in recorded history, learning poverty has increased by a third in low- and middle-income countries, with an estimated 70% of 10-year-olds unable to understand a simple written text. For Sub-Saharan Africa, the estimate is 90%, the highest regional figure in the world.

This report went further stating that we have solutions that can work at scale and in government systems – committing to substantial learning recovery programs is a start, but the composition of those programs matter: measure learning outcomes, but also invest in improving instruction through structured pedagogy. Nigeria’s Governors have already such solutions delivering learning impact to hundreds of thousands of children at basic education level.

In July, UNESCO updated its tracking of progress towards achieving SDG-4. It made clear that even if all countries achieved their planned national targets, SDG-4 would not be achieved. UNESCO estimates that 300 million children of primary age (37% of the total) will still not be meeting basic literacy and numeracy standards by 2030.    

In contrast, the study by Professor Kremer finds that after two years, primary school students in NewGlobe’s supported schools are nearly a whole additional year of learning ahead of  children taught using traditional methods. For early childhood development (ECD) – typically 3 and 5 year olds – children gain nearly an additional year and half of learning; learning in two years what students in other schools learn in three and a half years. To put these into context, these effect sizes far exceed the 99th percentile and represent learning gains in the top 1% among large, rigorous studies in Africa.

The study also finds children taught using NewGlobe’s methods are more than three times more likely to be able to read a sentence by the time they are in first grade, relative to  their peers in other schools. Students starting with the lowest learning levels gained the most, with girls making the same leap in learning as boys. It contrasts with research which shows girls in Sub-Saharan Africa are consistently disadvantaged in learning.

If replicated at scale across public education systems, the gains would be enough to put Nigerian children from underserved communities on track to match their peers in countries with incomes three or four times higher.

2019 Nobel Prize Laureate, Professor Michael Kremer said:

“The effects in this study are among the largest in the international education literature, particularly for a program that was already operating at scale.

“This study shows that attending schools delivering highly standardized education has the potential to produce dramatic learning gains at scale, suggesting that policymakers may wish to explore incorporation of standardization, including standardized lesson plans and teacher feedback and monitoring, in their own systems.”

NewGlobe’s Group Managing Director, Omowale David Ashiru said: Despite enormous global investment, the 2030 SDG-4 education targets will be missed, failing another generation of children. Now is the time to identify and scale effective local solutions already being implemented, by visionary governments, in economies where it’s most needed. We all know the scale of the crisis, now we need practical action, not talk, to solve it. The international community must unite and commit to implementing solutions already proven to work if we’re to have any prospect of delivering on the promise of quality education for all.

Governor of Edo State, Nigeria, Godwin Obaseki said:

“We are determined to transform the education sector and properly direct the state’s resources to develop human capacity. The saving grace for our country is education and not just sending children to school but having basic, qualitative and foundational education. Once you get basic education right everything else falls into place.

With the support of our technical partners [NewGlobe] on teaching and learning, we applied technology to re-engineer the entire cycle of delivery and accountability while redesigning teacher support, welfare and training to foster success in the classroom.”

Governor of Lagos State, Nigeria, Babajide Sanwo-Olu said:

“I usually acknowledge Governor Obaseki because I copied something that he introduced during his first tenure and which is working in Lagos, education.  He started EDOBEST, and he brought NewGlobe, an e-learning solution provider for basic education.

“You don’t need to go to another country to copy what is working well in our country already. He brought the initiative, and we said we also need to start with basic education.

“We have copied that from Edo; it’s working well in Lagos, and we’ll scale it up.”

Governor of Kwara State, Nigeria, Abdulrahman AbdulRazaq said:

“KwaraLEARN represents our vision for a stronger and more prosperous Kwara. Our flagship education programme takes the baton from pre-existing transformation programmes in Lagos and Edo States, both of which are local solutions already delivering value. We have understudied and have now made it fit for our own system here in Kwara. This is a lifetime investment that empowers teachers and gives public school pupils the best shot at 21st century education with reverberating effects on learning outcomes and the future of the state.”

The Transforming Education Summit has identified Thematic Action Tracks to place a spotlight on areas that require greater attention and action and that can accelerate progress on education: Inclusive, equitable, safe and healthy schools; Learning and skills for life, work and sustainable development; Teachers, teaching and the teaching profession; Digital learning and transformation; and Financing of education.

National Governments are endorsing the summit with statements of commitment.

Visionary State governments in Nigeria are already leading practical transformations of their public education systems using this data-driven scientific learning model supported by NewGlobe. Importantly, these government programmes do not require additional multilateral financing and are being delivered within existing budget allocations. To achieve the objectives of this summit in Nigeria, the Federal Government of Nigeria must go beyond budget allocation to enforcing widespread innovative solutions including technology, teacher training and structured lessons via policy mechanisms.

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