As education sector thought leaders and experts gather for the Education World Forum (EWF) in London to strategise on how to curb losses in learning gains, they are faced with a common goal: to get solutions to tackle learning poverty and build systems that will help ease the process of providing quality education to all by 2030.

The education and skills ministers in London are concentrating on building systems that will sustain education advancement and deliver quality education at all levels of learning. One common strategy will be to examine ways to build resilience and well-being for the world’s populace and sustainability for the planet.

An important addition will be to highlight factors that provide an opportunity to nurture a learning culture that would lead to stronger, bolder and better education by leveraging sustainable education systems. What better way to do this than to focus on home-grown solutions that take into consideration learning paces and meeting children at the point of their academic needs.

As education experts and stakeholders of the Education World Forum focus on creating sustainable systems to develop education to support individual and collective resilience, the world can take a leaf from the education reform the Edo State Government has employed in improving learning outcomes in Edo State – the EdoBEST programme.

Reforming for Improved Learning Outcomes

Adopted into the basic education system in 2018, the EdoBEST programme has reformed the basic education system, closing learning gaps and providing quality basic education for children in the state.

Employing a combination of teacher professional development training, technology and real-time data to drive the statewide reform, children in the state have improved their literacy and numeracy skills, faring better than their counterparts in non-EdoBEST schools.

One of the ways these skills have been nurtured has been through the Cross-grade Ability Grouping initiative introduced by the programme to tackle learning poverty. Cross-grade Ability Grouping is an initiative that saw EdoBEST children place into a literacy and numeracy programme at their learning level.

Children were assessed, regrouped according to their literacy and numeracy abilities, and taught with level-appropriate materials. This gave pupils who hitherto could not read and write, the opportunity to learn at a better pace and align with their counterparts such that the literacy and numeracy levels of all students in a class were level.

Also, in 2022, the Edo State Government expanded the EdoBEST programme to more primary schools in rural, riverine and hard-to-reach areas as part of its mandate to ensure that more children have access to quality basic education, thus effectively curbing learning losses and reducing the number of out-of-school children in the state.

Before the implementation of the model, a preliminary diagnostic test was carried out to better understand the literacy and numeracy skills, strengths and weaknesses of the pupils in the rural schools.

Using data to drive reforms

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When the COVID-19 pandemic prevented more than 260,000 primary school students in the EdoBEST programme from being physically present at school, the government looked into harnessing resources to churn out a progressive solution to ensure that learning continues beyond the classroom.

A mobile-phone unimodal solution to provide remote education to all students across the state, from pre-primary to junior secondary (middle school) was developed, EdoBEST@Home helped over 200,000 receiving virtual lessons in over 7000 virtual classrooms.

Three years after, EdoBEST@Home’s remote learning strategy has successfully managed to leverage its existing education model, which relies on digital technologies to improve teaching and learning and adapt it to a remote learning solution.

Upscaling the EdoBEST@Home programme, teachers in basic education system underwent training to better handle remote teaching and learning ahead of the 2023 Easter holiday. Over 8,000 teachers completed the training and deployed their learnings in remote lesson delivery.

Building Support Systems

In addition to the technology and the 10-day induction teacher training organised for teachers and school leaders, the teachers are also provided with another layer of support from the Learning and Development Officers and the Quality Assurance Officers.

Visiting a different school each day, these field officers provide support to teachers and headteachers by mentoring the teachers and ensuring that the quality of lessons delivered is up to par. These officers ensure that standards are maintained and that teachers who need regular refresher training and continuous professional development engagements do not wait till another big training to get needed attention. This they do by adopting both an individual and school-based approach.

The School-Based Management Committee also plays a huge role in providing support to teachers and school leaders. They provide community support as they serve as the link between the communities, schools and the state government.

This system ensures that communities are committed to education advancement while maintaining pupil enrolment and parent participation. This support system has helped the EdoBEST programme tip the scale of learning poverty and expand the reach of the programme to more children in the state.

Education World Forum

The theme of this year’s edition of the Education World Forum, ‘New Beginnings: Nurturing Learning Culture, Building Resilience, Promoting Sustainability. Stronger, Bolder, Better Education by Design’ reiterates what every government and nation should prioritise in steering education on course for 2030.
The forum explores equity in education, the use of artificial intelligence, technology, data and information and their impact on what seems most important for education when society and its systems become more stretched and pressured.

As the world awaits the outcome of EWF 2023 with bated breath, stakeholders are hopeful that the panacea for nurturing learning culture in order to build “stronger, bolder, better education by design” lies in leveraging homegrown solutions. Stakeholders are hopeful that the delivery of quality education for all will become reality.