Boosting Economic Stability Via Innovation in Public Education​

At the 28th Nigerian Economic Summit held recently in Abuja, experts explained how increased funding, standardisation and innovation in public education could deliver economic stability for growth in the country. Funmi Ogundare reports

Policymakers, business leaders, development partners, civil society leaders and scholars recently converged on the​ Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, for the 28th Nigerian Economic Summit (#NES28), aimed at articulating the country’s development imperatives that will satisfy the need for economic security and sustainability, social justice, conscientious governance, political stability and proffer solutions to Nigeria’s learning deprivation.​

Themed ‘2023 and Beyond: Priorities for Shared Prosperity’, the event was attended by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Governor Nasir El-Rufai, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, the UNICEF country representative, Cristian Munduate, Special Adviser to the President on Social Investments, Maryam Uwais, Director Arc Lights Foundation, Abisola Obasanya and Executive Secretary of​ Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), Hamid Bobboyi.

Osinbajo, representing President Muhammadu Buhari at the opening ceremony, spoke about ‘How Partnership, Innovative Thinking, Disciplined Implementation can Boost Economic Growth, Productivity’, stated that with pressing national, and global economic challenges, the task ahead of the Nigerian nation requires partnership, innovative thinking, and most importantly, disciplined implementation, by both government and the private sector.

He emphasised​ key issues that will drive growth and prosperity, including the National Development Plan 2021 to 2025 and the impact of the economic sustainability plan.

“There’s a need for increased productivity and value addition across different sectors of the economy so as to create more jobs for Nigerians, especially its youths, and increase national revenue for further development,” he stated.

The programme also witnessed panel sessions featuring NewGlobe Nigeria, a global leader in learning, showcased an already successful local education transformation plan and​ blueprints for eradicating learning poverty in Nigeria.

​Speaking during the​ session tagged ‘Eradicating Learning Deprivation’, the Group Managing Director, NewGlobe, Mrs Omowale David-Ashiru, described​ learning poverty as a global problem exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic in African countries like Nigeria. she stated that the combination of out-of-school children and the poor rate of learning for those in school have​ gravely threatened the potential of future economic growth and social development.

She emphasised possible solutions to the challenges that can work at scale and within existing government systems to improve learning outcomes.​

David-Ashiru noted that “there must be (a) commitment to learning programmes by governments through​ teacher training, improved instruction and structured pedagogy, as well as​ (the) measurement of learning outcomes.”

She recalled the holistic methodology already delivering value for Nigerian children in Edo, Lagos and Kwara states in the digital learning platform, adaptive instructional content, teacher training and coaching, and 360-degree support.​

“Within this holistic system (there) are many sets of practices, such as school management, learning and development, instructional guidance, and feedback,” explained David-Ashiru. “Schools in this system are being transformed using technology and data. Every school is transparent and accessible to its political leaders; decisions and policies are data-based, and children are learning at a speed not seen before in Nigeria.”

Emphasising the​ Kremer study learning, David-Ashiru stated that, aside from investing in infrastructure, Nigeria should also look at foundational literacy and numeracy at basic education levels to eradicate learning poverty in the country.

“This holistic learning methodology was the subject of a two-year study led by 2019 Nobel prize winner Prof. Michael Kremer. The Kremer study finds that NewGlobe methods deliver unequivocal major learning gains across every academic year in its supported schools, compared with other schools,” she said. “These are particularly large in the key grades for Foundational Literacy and Numeracy (FLN), primary classes one and two.”

Chief of Staff to the President, Prof Ibrahim Gambari, commended participants and endorsed the summit’s outcomes, including the need for restoration, increased funding, standardisation and innovation in public education to deliver economic stability for growth.

​This outcome, among others, will be contained in the NES28 ‘Green Book’, a compendium of summit recommendations to be disseminated to federal ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), including other critical stakeholders, for implementation.

​Other participants at the programme noted that the ‘Eradicating Learning Deprivation’ interactive panel at the #NES28​ delivered examples of an actionable framework for transformational leadership in education for Nigeria.​

They mentioned they “have a sustainable and inclusive solution to learning poverty, a necessary imperative for transforming Nigeria’s human capital into national productive and innovative capacity that creates a secure collective future of prosperity for all and sustained economic development.”

They further stressed the need for Nigeria to articulate a framework to harness foundational literacy and numeracy for 2023 and beyond as a matter of priority, pointing out that the country has “a chance to drive real change and deliver quality education for children in Nigeria.”

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