When we talk about transformative education programmes that bridge the gap between developed and developing nations, the EKO Excellence in Child Education and Learning (EKOEXCEL) programme in Lagos State stands as an exemplar of excellence. This initiative, launched in 2019 by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, is not just achieving substantial learning gains but is propelling Lagos State towards educational levels comparable to those of more developed, higher-income countries.
The results from EKOEXCEL are nothing short of remarkable. The programme has not only improved foundational literacy but also demonstrated its commitment to policy-relevant metrics, such as “learning deprivation.” Learning deprivation refers to the proportion of children who fall below the minimum proficiency level, a critical parameter in assessing educational success. By aligning these metrics with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4.1.1.b, which measures the proportion of children unable to read a simple passage with comprehension by the end of primary school, EKOEXCEL has showcased its transformative power.
In just 80 instructional weeks, schools under the EKOEXCEL programme have reduced learning deprivation from an average of 94.7% to 58.5%. This significant change effectively amounts to a reduction of 36.2% in the learning deprivation metric. The impact is profound and is not just a mere statistic; it signifies a monumental shift in the educational landscape of Lagos State.
These remarkable achievements place pupils in EKOEXCEL schools on par with countries like Mexico, which are categorized as upper middle-income countries. It’s a transformation that has taken Lagos State from the realm of low-performance income countries to a position comparable to their more prosperous counterparts.
Furthermore, pupils under the EKOEXCEL programme achieved top scores in the results released by the National Examinations Council on July 12, 2023 with pupils scoring as high as 199, just 4 points away from the national best score of 203.
The programme fortified its commitment to pupil success by providing comprehensive preparatory classes for pupils, enriched with essential materials. Unified mock examinations conducted at the conclusion of each term offered students vital exposure to examination patterns, equipping them with the confidence and readiness required for success.
EKOEXCEL is a testament to the visionary leadership of Governor Sanwo-Olu and the dedicated efforts of educators, parents, and students in Lagos State. This programme is not just about improving academic outcomes; it’s about changing lives, offering hope, and redefining the future for thousands of young learners.
EKOEXCEL is built on data; through EKOEXCEL government leaders can see what is happening in every classroom, school and area in real time via a software called Spotlight, making the entire school system transparent.
The use of real-time data monitoring necessitated the need for the Lagos State Government to establish a dedicated control center for the EKOEXCEL programme called the Situation Room, domiciled at the premises of the Lagos State Basic Education Board.
The EKOEXCEL situation room is the first of its kind in Nigeria as a government partnership programme, offering a round-the-clock dedicated school monitoring control center.
EKOEXCEL’s journey in empowering teachers has yielded remarkable results. One key facet is its emphasis on continuous professional development. The programme offers various workshops and access to advanced teaching resources. These investments ensure that educators are equipped with the latest pedagogical skills and teaching methods, enhancing their effectiveness in the classroom.
Additionally, EKOEXCEL recognizes the significance of technology in modern education. The programme has ensured that teachers are well-versed in its use. This tech-savvy approach equips educators with the tools needed to create dynamic and engaging learning environments.
Last month’s celebrations of the International Day of the Girl Child, saw an opportunity to recognize the profound impact of EKOEXCEL in promoting gender equality in education. The program actively encourages girls to participate in various co-curricular activities, fosters leadership, and provides them with strong role models in female teachers and school leaders.
Governor Sanwo-Olu’s EKOEXCEL is not just an education programme, rather, it is a catalyst for social change, a driver of economic progress, and a source of inspiration for girls and boys across Lagos State. It showcases the remarkable potential of Nigerian education when visionary leadership, dedicated educators, and an unwavering commitment to equality come together.
In a world striving for a brighter future for all, EKOEXCEL serves as a shining example of what can be achieved when education is prioritized and transformed into a powerful tool for change. Lagos State’s journey towards education levels comparable to more developed, higher-income countries is a testament to the transformative potential that exists within the realm of education. As we celebrate the accomplishments of EKOEXCEL, we also celebrate the promise of a brighter future for all the girls and boys of Lagos State.
Misan Thorpe, an education journalist, writes from Lagos.