The Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) at the weekend bestowed the award of the ‘2019 Best Performing Governor’ on the Governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki.
The teachers said the governor emerged as winner of the award in recognition of his efforts in improving basic education and teachers’ welfare in the state.
They noted that Obaseki has achieved so much in transforming the sector within three years of his assumption of office.
The colourful ceremony, at the weekend, at the Eagle Square in Abuja was held to mark the World Teachers’ Day, was attended by President Muhammadu Buhari, who was represented by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami.
The award was presented to the governor by the Minister of State for Education, Hon. Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, who urged Obaseki to continue with the good work of repositioning education in the state.
Speaking to journalists after receiving the award, Obaseki said Nigeria’s developmental challenges stemmed from poor education which his administration has set out to address.
He said: “We found out that the root cause of this challenge is 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.
“The fact is that 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 have got to think of education strategically to realise that what is most important is the foundation.”
He added: “When you don’t make the right investment and commitment to the foundation of education, that is, basic education, children will not learn. If you are not able to add sums and pronounce 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.
“To do this, we are 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.”
Obaseki said: “Once a teacher is signed into the database, the lesson note for that day will be loaded into the teacher’s tablet. We have trained teachers to understand how to use the tablets and the technology to teach children.
“To motivate the children, corporal punishment has been abolished in our schools. The outcome is that children are learning. After one term, a child in Edo State today learns more than they used to learn in three terms of work in the old system.
“What this award means is that the 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. We are pursuing intellectual infrastructure, not stomach infrastructure.”
He said: “It is intellectual infrastructure that will build stomach infrastructure. So that is the direction we must go by emphasising development of human capacity.
On how to get every child in school, he said: “We train the teachers on 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 child to come to school. That is an incentive to allow the children to come to school. When they come to school, let them have fun. What is happening in Edo Basic Education Sector Transformation (EdoBEST) today is not just driven by the teachers but also driven by the pupils. The children 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.