When Governor Godwin Obaseki introduced the EdoBEST programme into the basic education sector, it was the first step in tackling learning poverty through education systems and structures.

The EdoBEST programme began with a needs assessment that revealed the deterioration in the education system which could only be corrected through an overhaul of the education system, especially the teaching workforce.

This prompted a training of the first 1500 teachers who volunteered to be introduced to the EdoBEST pedagogy for an improved basic education system in Edo State.

Addressing teachers at the Teachers’ Day event organised by the National Union of Teachers (Edo Chapter) to commemorate Teachers’ Day in Edo State, the governor noted that the trust in the reform programme is what has built and sustained the programme.

“I recall vividly in 2018 when I told you we had to do something about transforming education in Edo, yes, we had challenges from the past but the biggest challenge we had then was trust.

“In six years, we have been able to build trust because trust is the foundation of anything. With this trust, we have changed the landscape of education in Edo with the transformation which we have undertaken in basic education. Today, Edo is now a model to be copied,” Governor Obaseki said.

In Edo State, Governor Godwin Obaseki adopted the EdoBEST reform as a measure to curb learning losses and improve the quality of education in the state. Leveraging technology as a huge part of the basic education reform ensured that the teaching and learning process was simplified, giving teachers time to be creative in teaching.

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Running a state-wide reform requires a conscious commitment to funding and investing in education by state governments. For Governor Obaseki, it meant investing in technology, teachers and a teaching methodology guaranteed to improve learning outcomes. Upon the launch of the programme’s remote learning platform in 2020, he noted “We have acquainted over 280,000 children with technology-based learning models and trained 11,000 teachers and education managers on model digital teaching and learning methods”.

Catering to over 380,000 children in all the 18 LGAs in Edo State, the success of the EdoBEST programme has been tremendous such that the average EdoBEST child is now closer to international reading performance levels of 110 words per minute which is way higher than the Nigerian average.

While Nigeria has the uneasy title of the country with the most out-of-school children, 75% of the children who are in school suffer from what UNESCO and the World Bank describe as learning poverty – the inability to read and understand a simple text by age 10.

The EdoBEST programme has since become a model for improved learning outcomes using a renowned pedagogy that prioritises student-centred learning through a re-orientation of teaching processes and methodology.

“The world asks me how did you do it? Edo is now EdoBEST and I tell them that I didn’t do it, it is my teachers who did it. When I called them, they harkened to my call and told me what to do. That is why today when the world is talking about learning poverty, in Edo we do not have learning poverty. It is the teachers that made this possible,” he said.

For Edo State and other states that have replicated similar reforms operating a methodology which requires an infusion of technology and improved teacher-student interaction, results show that there is a decrease in the number of out-of-school children in the states as more children are eager to learn.