Boosting Teaching, Learning in Lagos Schools through Technology

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A cross section of teachers at the EkoExcel training held recently

Teaching and learning in Lagos State recently received a boost with the second phase of the EkoExcel training for primary school teachers in the state, aimed at building their capacity through technology to improve pupils’ learning outcomes. Funmi Ogundare reports

As schools plan a phased reopening after the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, teaching and learning approaches, especially for primary school teachers in Lagos State, will no longer be what it used to be.

For one week, over 2,000 teachers from 200 public schools in the state converged on CMS Primary School, Bariga and Vetland Primary School, Ifako-Ijaye for the phase II Excellence in Child Education and Learning (EkoExcel) training, organised by the Lagos State government, to build their capacity and leverage on technology to improve the learning outcomes of pupils.

During the training, the teachers were taught how to combine the classroom and teaching techniques through a blended and integrative learning using technology, while ensuring that they are culture sensitive.

The head teachers were also tasked with the responsibility of identifying the relevance of building team culture through their everyday actions, set goals for each teacher and ensure that they are achieved with the overall aim of improving lesson delivery.

The Chairman of the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Wahab Alawiye-King stressed the need for the teachers to brace up for the new world order, adding that manpower development and capacity building is the only way to achieve quality education.

“Before the pandemic, the Lagos state government had planned to use technology for schools. Moreso, there have been online classes since the closure of schools. We all know that with the new normal, we can continue to learn without being in a classroom environment. That is the new world order, so we have to brace up for it, and that is the essence of the training for teachers,” he said.

With the new world order, he said the dynamics of what is currently happening in the world must be understood and evaluated, this he said moved the state government to take such initiative.

“Nobody envisaged COVID-19. We have started this programme before then and we have been using technology in our classes, so it shows that government is proactive. We must not stop there. It is a new world order and as such, we must identify, understand and evaluate the dynamics of what is happening in the world. We are preparing for the future, COVID-19 is here, we must learn how to live with it and accept it and that is why we must prepare ourselves for the challenges ahead,” the chairman stressed.

Asked the challenges faced by teachers that were trained last year and advancement in implementation for teaching and learning, Alawiye-King said: “Part of what we intend to do is organise a refresher course to accommodate some of the challenges we have identified and also expose them to the realities on ground. Nobody envisaged COVID-19, which has opened up windows for us to expand our training and infuse technology more into our teaching style.”

The pedagogy which is the art and science of teaching and learning, the curriculum which is the content and the manner which the delivery is done, needs to change, as he said: “Teaching needs to be more collaborative, they need to be culture sensitive, pupils centric and learners centred. They need to be relevant and responsive to what is on ground.”

On how the teachers will be able to cope with a compressed time-table during the pandemic, the chairman said, “that is why we are talking about the new world order which is the integrative and blended learning as it has been established that learning and teaching can happen outside of the classroom. We can teach and learn with the combination of the classroom manner of teaching and infusion of technology to assist in bridging the gap that has existed.”

He urged the teachers to make use of the opportunity to impact their pupils by the time they resume classes.
The Permanent Board Member, SUBEB, in charge of EkoExcel, Bayo Adefuye said with the training, the teachers are expected to be more technology compliant, rather than shying away from it.

“We told them to embrace it and once they go back to their respective schools, they are going to raise the standard. Raising the standard is not just providing them with all these facilities, they too have to actively ensure that the standard is raised. We want our teachers and children to be rated globally. We can’t rate the children without the teachers and that is why their capacity is being built.”

Aside this, he noted that their classroom management skills should ensure that they have livelier classes as children learn better in a playful and fun environment.

He corroborated Alawiye-King saying that teachers who had previously been trained, will get a refresher course. “They have been off from the classroom for several months, so it is possible that they are out of practice, so we are planning a refresher course for them.”

Asked about the difference between last year and this year’s training he said, “the only thing we added was the COVID-19 protocols which is now very essential in whatever you are doing, but it is still the same quality of training. They have keyed into this. Before the lockdown, we had feedbacks from the schools that had EkoExcel and the difference is very clear. The initiative is a fantastic endeavour by the governor.”

On feedback on challenges faced by the teachers, Adefuye said they were scared of technology, adding that they have changed their mindsets towards adopting it, “as that is the world we are going into.”

Asked how technology will improve teaching in the state, the board member said it will enhance teachers’ efficiency by making them better at their jobs, as well as ensuring that the pupils learn better.

“The feedback from the first set already proved that we have recorded a lot of successes. COVID is the new normal, so we have to take that into consideration.”

A member of the Commisioner’s Education Transformation Team, Mrs. Wunmi Tolu-Alalade who came to inspect the training, expressed satisfaction with the level of performance by the facilitators, saying, “it was quite interactive, the teachers were eager, agile and excited. There was no dull moment.”

She commended the Lagos State goverment for the initiative, most especially Governor Babajide Sanwo-olu saying, “the teachers are happy that this is happening and I am very sure that by the time they get back to school, they will continue the first phase.”

Some of the teachers who were trained told THISDAY how educative it has been and that it would change their mentality towards ensuring a good delivery of learning.

A teacher with African Child Model School, Alagbado, Mrs. Kehinde Temitope said: “Since the beginning of the training, it has been very educative and I must say that coming to the training has changed our mentality as teachers and would make teaching and learning effective.”

She said when she resumes, she will inculcate what she had learnt to teach her the pupils.

Mr. Abiodun Fabolude of African Secondary School, Lagos said, “we find the training programme very enjoyable as it will allow teachers to improve more on their teaching. Through what we have learnt here, it will help us improve learners’ ability.”

The Head Teacher, Ilajo Community Primary School, Igbogbo, Ikorodu, Mrs. Modupe Adesanwo also described the training as an eye opener, saying that at the long run, pupils will not be left behind.

“They are training us to ensure that pupils are not left behind. If you train them very well, they will be able to do it. Their lives lie in our hands, it all depends on the way you teach them that they will be able to learn.”

Asked how she plans to inculcate the blended learning in her school, she said, “I will first of all observe the teachers, talk to them and tell them what they need to do and then go round to observe and monitor them. If they are not doing well, I will redirect them. We have short and long observation that we need to do, so we are going to adopt that.”

On her assesesement, Adesanwo said the old ways of teaching pupils and introducing the cane system especially for the dull ones will no longer occur, as teachers need to be redirected so that they can properly teach the pupils.

“For dull students, the teachers will take them separately and make sure that they are taught properly. With what the teachers have been taught here, it is practicable,” the head teacher said.