James Emejo in Abuja
The Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) Saturday declared Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki as the Best Performing Governor nationwide in 2019
The union said the governor emerged as the most education friendly governor citing his roles in improving basic education and teachers’ welfare in the state.
The union bestowed the honour on him as parts of the activities to mark the 2019 the World Teachers’ Day at the Eagle Square in Abuja.
The celebration was attended by President Muhammadu Buhari; Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami and Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, among others.
Speaking at the forum, the union noted that Obaseki had achieved so much in transforming the sector with three years of his assumption of office.
The award was presented to the governor by the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, urging him to continue with the good works of repositioning education in the state.
After receiving the award, Obaseki said the root of the current development challenges stemmed from poor education which his administration had set out to address.
According to him, we found out that the root of this challenge is very poor education, which this generation is receiving. And for us as a government, we decided to dedicate ourselves to not just building classes but to go to the foundation of education.
He said: “If a teacher is not in class, a child will not learn. If the teacher does not know what to teach the child there will be no learning. And you’ve got to think of education strategically to realise that what is most important is the foundation.”
“We you do not make the right investment and commitment to the foundations of education that is basic education children will not learn.
“If you are not able to add your sums and pronounce your alphabets, you cannot write and you cannot think logically. So what we have done in Edo in the last one and a half years is to first prioritise basic education and technical education.
“Basic education from the perspective of encouraging teachers, making sure we are able to deploy technology to determine and tell when a teacher is in class. I can tell from my office today when a teacher is in class. If a teacher is not in class then the teacher hasn’t signed into the database.
“Once a teacher is signed in, the lesson note for that day will be loaded into the teacher’s tablet. And we’ve trained teachers to understand how to use the tablets and the technology to teach the children.
“So, this is also to motivate them and corporal punishment has been abolished in our schools. The outcome is that children are learning. A child in Edo state today after one term has now learnt more than three terms of work in the old system.
“What this award means is that a nation should know that we are prioritising education as a party. Education is one of the cardinal points in the APC manifesto. The country should know that what is important today is mental infrastructure, the intellectual infrastructure not stomach infrastructure.”
He said: “It is intellectual infrastructure, mental infrastructure that will build stomach infrastructure. So that is the direction we must go to emphasise education, emphasise development of human capacity.
On how to get every child in school, he said his administration trained the teachers how “to encourage students to come to school and make sure there’s something in it for them. The school feeding programme is key. If a parent knows the child will eat a nutritious meal in school, he will allow the children to come to school.
“That’s an incentive to allow the children to come to school and when they come to school, let them have fun because what is happening in EdoBest today is not just driven by the teachers but also driven by the pupils as they get to school early and parents have been wondering why the children want to go to school early.
“But it’s because the children want their names on the character board for there is an incentive for them to be mentioned in class that they are well behaved and that they come to school on time.
“So the element in the whole system that we’ve introduced encourages learning and participation of both teachers, students and parents. The other thing we’ve introduced with EdoBest is community participation. So every school has a school based management committee made up of parents, teachers, community leaders who take an interest in the schools in their community.
“Because our experience in the past is to build schools, furnish them but in no time they were vandalised because people feel it’s government. But today, the infrastructure of schools are protected.”
“The mistake we make in Nigeria is that we think all our problem is money and funding. No. We are already spending some money. For us in Edo, what we are already doing is to get value for the money we are spending.
“We are not paying much more for teachers, we are just making ensure that they come to school and teach and they earn what they are paid and also to treat them with respect and whatever their entitlements are which is budgeted anyway, that we pay them and pay them on time.
“If you do that first, then you can sit down and determine what the real gap is and how much more to source to fix the problem. So the problem is not totally financial but planning, commitment and the fear of God.
“If God has given us these children and it’s our responsibility to make sure that we train and educate them because we have received quality education in this country.
“Mistakes were made in the past, our systems were broken as a result of reasons well known but with the benefit of technology today all the gaps will be filled and then emphasis should not just be on schooling but should be on learning.”