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President Buhari’s Transforming Education Summit (TES 2022) Address and the KwaraLEARN Education Transformation Project

President Muhammadu Buhari in Handshake with the Kwara State Governor, Mal. AbdulRahman AbdulRasaq

The Transforming Education Summit (TES)  spent three days addressing the depth and breadth of problems afflicting learning around the world.

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 focussed on identifying education transformation programmes proven to work at scale.

This learning crisis began long before the covid-19 pandemic and runs much deeper. The report card from the International Commission on the Future of Education puts it clearly; education systems don’t make the grade. They are failing students and societies. We will not end this crisis by simply doing more of the same, faster or better. Now is the time to transform education systems. According to the World Bank, 7 out of 10 children in Low and Middle Income Countries cannot read with comprehension by their tenth birthday. In other words, they are functionally illiterate, this after decades of declarations and initiatives by the global education community to improve the quality of basic education. These attempts to “fix” the architecture have yet to demonstrate meaningful success: learning levels are persistently low, and positive deviants hard to find.

President Muhammadu Buhari addressed the “Transforming Education Summit “, during which he proclaimed Nigeria as a champion country and committed to greater inclusiveness 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.

The latest large scale education  transformation project that should qualify Nigeria as a “Champion Country” in President Buhari’s words is  KwaraLEARN (Leading Education Achievement and Reform Now),  a core new education programme by the Government of Kwara State to deliver dramatic improvements in learning outcomes in public schools for all children across Kwara State.

KwaraLEARN is transforming government primary schools across the state into powerful public schools using an innovative technology and data-driven platform, coupled with high-quality learning materials, effective training and ongoing coaching for teachers and school leaders, and technology-enabled support teams to create 360-degree support for learning outcomes.

 His Excellency, the executive governor of Kwara State, Mal. AbdulRahman AbdulRasaq 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”.

It is important to note that the methodology implemented in KwaraLEARN was studied by a group  led by Professor Michael Kremer, the Nobel Prize-winning economist, in a different school system  to measure impact over a 2 year period. Professor Kremer’s study  found that “The effects in this study are among the largest in the international education literature, particularly for a program that was already operating at scale”. 

Primary students taught using this methodology  learnt as much in two years as their counterparts in other schools learnt in three.

KwaraLEARN takes the baton from pre-existing transformation programmes in Lagos and Edo states, both of which are local solutions already delivering value.

At the conclusion of the Transformational Education Summit, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was clear. Now is the time to transform the entire public education system. Trailblazing political leaders across the world such as Kwara State  are showing how it can be done, using proven learning methods. If the world is going to come close to achieving the goals of the Transforming Education Summit, others must follow their example.

Nigeria must push at federal level for policy, budget and implementation to enable large scale transformative education projects such as KwaraLEARN which is already creating value and alleviating learning poverty in the country.

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