EKOEXCEL: Restoring Confidence in Lagos Public Schools

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Uchechukwu Nnaike reports that the current education reform programme of the Lagos State Government, EKOEXCEL seeks to, among other objectives, increase confidence in the state public education system by developing more skilled teachers through training, supporting and motivating them to succeed in their classrooms. This is expected to have a positive effect on pupils’ performance

In recent times, owing to the declining quality of public education in the country, most parents have resorted to enrolling their children in private schools, even low cost private schools operating in unconducive environment with poorly qualified teachers.
However, governments at all levels have embarked on series of projects over the years to reverse the trend and attract more children to public schools.

The recent programme by the Lagos State Government, Exellence in Child Education and Learning (EKOEXCEL), launched on January 25 has been described as a move in the right direction.

The launch followed a two-week intensive training of over 4,000 teachers from various schools and education districts across the state who will be the main drivers of the new initiative to reposition service delivery in public primary schools with special focus on learning outcomes for pupils.

As part of the programme, over 14,000 head teachers and teachers will be moved from analogue to digital teaching, using tablets and updated curriculum. Over 3,000 primary school teachers from 300 public primary schools have been captured under the pilot scheme.

Among other benefits, the EKOEXCEL Programme is expected to empower teachers to deliver at the same level as their counterparts around the world; provide strong continuous support that will encourage improvement in teachers and pupils; Lagos children can accelerate reading and literacy skills to compete with their peers globally; Lagos teachers will become more professional and technologically savvy in their work.

It will also enable teachers to become more skillful in helping children to learn in a positive environment; increase pupils enrolment across the state; increase participation and enthusiasm among teachers and pupils; head teachers will be more efficient in their work using technology to support teachers; and SUBEB and other governing bodies will have adequate data to carry out necessary academic adjustments and infrastructural development across schools.

Speaking at the graduation of the EKOEXCEL Pre-service Professional Development and Technology Training Programme, held at The Blue Roof, Agidingbi, Ikeja, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu reaffirmed his administration’s plan to transform the state education sector and to increase government’s investment for the good of the pupils.

While describing education as a vital instrument of economic emancipation, mobility, social improvement and cultural growth, which ultimately enhance national development, he said, “suffice it to say that the role of teachers in the attainment of these objectives cannot be over emphasised.

“It is no secret that teachers have an influencing role in the life of every child. They are like beacons of light, guiding us in the formative years of our life. Teachers mould us and in the process shape our future. What we learn from our teachers remains with us throughout our life. However, career development is important and puts emphasis on broader skills, which are applicable in a wide range of situations. This includes decision making, thinking creatively and managing the children for excellence.”

The governor recalled that at the inception of his administration, “we identified three critical issues militating against quality education in Lagos State. They are the need to upgrade the teaching profession to promote knowledge transfer and co-create workable functional models for the profession thereby creating overwhelming support for learning outcomes; review the school curriculum such that it reflects current and future industry needs to positively influence and reshape the present educational system in the state; and upgrading school infrastructure.

“We resolved to solve these problems through combining innovative technology, scientifically based pedagogical approaches, effective training, support and closing the learning gap such that all school age children in Lagos State builds a better and brighter future for themselves, their families and the teeming people of Lagos State. We resolved that this government will empower teachers in every local government and strengthen their capacity to deliver quality education to our children.”
He said at the end of the programme, over 14,000 primary school teachers would have benefited from the initiative, while over 500,000 pupils would have been positively impacted.

“I am particularly happy that this programme is holding at a time when all hands are on deck to ensure that the quality of teaching and learning is improved across all our schools in the state.
“As a responsible government, we will continue the massive investment in this sector, with the training and retraining of our teachers, making the sector more ICT compliant, exposing our teachers to international best practices, as well as ensuring that our schools become a destination for work and learning.”

To encourage teachers and make good examples from outstanding ones, he said the state government would identify the best head teachers in all the 20 local government areas and 37 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) and reward them with a car each.
The governor noted that his administration is not paying lip service to repositioning the sector, adding that the education ministry got a significantly higher allocation in the 2020 budget.

He also promised that teachers will undergo free sight assessment and reading glasses will be provided for every teacher that requires it to be able to discharge their duties effectively.
In her remarks, the state Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Folasade Adefisayo said the goal of EKOEXCEL as an initiative to reform primary school learning outcomes in Lagos is to transform learning in the classroom such that every child has access to quality teachers.

“For these youths to contribute their utmost, the onus falls on the teachers to impact rightly, in accordance to the modern pace and trends. Investing in the education of our children and young adult became paramount and the need to strengthen the capacity of teachers to deliver quality education became germane. It is our believe that introducing new educational infrastructure will cultivate a learning environment that would prepare our children and young adults for a trending terrain that requires intuition, creativity and critical thinking for future workplaces.

“With these in view, integrating technology into our school curriculum and empowering our youths with the much- needed skills for tomorrow’s job through trainings, programmes and other activities became our immediate goal and a task that must be accomplished and sustained.

“The state government’s strategic designing and funding of the EKOEXCEL initiative, a transformational plan aimed at supporting teachers to achieve better learning outcomes in the classroom through training, supporting and motivating of our teachers, is a phenomena objective.

“It is our view that we will deliver a radical better learning outcomes for our future leaders as the EKOEXCEL initiative will provide our schools with the technology based up skills, scientific- proven pedagogical approaches and a complete 360 degree support system that will beacon across educational strides.”

Adefisayo reiterated that EKOEXCEL was designed out of the government’s recognition of the fact that children in public primary schools in the state are going to live a different life than the life the older generation had.

She therefore charged the teachers to impact their students, while bringing to bare their professionalism. “The concise framework we have formulated that encapsulates our collective vision should be built upon as you give your best at all times. To whom much is given, much is expected.
“I urge you to rededicate yourselves and continually contribute your own quotas positively and responsively in this new drive to reform the education sector and take it to a higher pedestal,” the commissioner said.

Also speaking, the Chairman, Lagos State Universal Basic Education Board, (SUBEB), Mr. Wahab Alawiye-King, disclosed that the government is advancing rapidly with its reform of the primary education sub-sector, adding that apart from the initiative improving the quality of learning the pupils will receive in the over 1,000 public primary schools in the state, it will also boost school enrolment.
“UNICEF and World Bank reports say that Nigeria has over 12 million out-of-school children and many of them are in Lagos and northern states.”

Alawiye-King commended Bridge House, the technical partner on EKOEXCEL for the amount of work put into training the teachers and developing the model that will revolutionise the way teachers deliver teaching in line with modern trends and best practices.
He also lauded the determination and enthusiasm of the teachers towards the initiative and enjoined them to effectively deploy what they learnt at the training to make the classroom more engaging for pupils.
“No child should be left behind; you must carry all your pupils along, irrespective of their individual differences and capabilities.

“EKOEXCEL is a multifaceted, multi-dimensional approach to teaching and learning in our schools. It will have a great impact and increase enrollment in public schools. Also, it will make our teachers more efficient, they will not only teach with Android devices, but will also exhibit other classroom management skills they have learnt. It will make primary schools interesting as all 1,016 public primary schools in the state will be covered,” Alawiye-King stressed.

He also promised to continuously seek the support and cooperation of the Lagos State House of Assembly to ensure that the necessary legislative framework is put in place to guarantee the sustainability of EKOEXCEL beyond the current administration.
“As the home is the first learning ground for all children, we call on parents and guardians to carry out effective oversight functions over their wards and complement the efforts of the teachers by ensuring regular and prompt attendance of their children in school, adequate supervision of homework and to be supportive of all school activities.”