By AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq
The kernel of our electoral campaign to the people of Kwara State is to restore the dignity of the Kwara person, redeem the lost glory of the state on all fronts, ensure inclusive growth, and reposition it for greatness and competitiveness in Nigeria. At the heart of this campaign is quality education and human capital development — an area that is critical for inclusive growth and upward social mobility in the knowledge economy.
We are clearly delivering on this score. In addition to getting our state off national (UBEC) blacklist and freeing our schools from WAEC sanctions, progressively committing huge resources to rebuilding basic schools, as well as injecting new 4,700 competent teachers into our classrooms, this week we are rolling out the first phase of our flagship education transformative programme: Kwara Leading Education Achievement and Reform Now, or KwaraLEARN.
This is in realisation that getting education right from the foundation will support our achievements in infrastructural development, agriculture, technology and social services, and open up new vistas of opportunities that will promote common good.
Our flagship education programme takes the baton from pre-existing transformation programmes in Lagos and Edo States, both of which are local solutions already delivering value. We have understudied and have now made it fit for our own system here in Kwara.
This is a lifetime investment that empowers teachers and gives public school pupils the best shot at 21st century education with reverberating effects on learning outcomes and the future of the state. The KwaraLEARN programme affords our teachers the right digital tools to be at their best, while providing an electronic platform to make classrooms and schools transparent. The technology will monitor attendance and performance of pupils and teachers in all classrooms, offering continual support and feedback.
As a new term begins, we are not just discussing how to improve our schools and classrooms, we are implementing new approaches and techniques. We are taking action.
We are taking the future of our state and shaping it with a carefully designed policy which places Kwara as an innovation capital in Nigeria and West Africa’s economic growth.
Over the last few weeks, 3,500 of our teachers have been trained in the use of new digital technology and proven pedagogical techniques designed to support them in delivering the best possible lessons to their students. Thousands more will be trained in the subsequent phase of the programme.
Our aim is to transform every government primary school and, in doing so, transform the learning outcomes for every Kwara child.
To do this, we are empowering all our primary teachers with the right digital tools to be at their very best in the delivery of expertly planned lessons based on our national curriculum. This is supported with an electronic platform to make classrooms and schools transparent.
The technology will monitor attendance and performance of pupils and teachers in every classroom, offering continual real-time support and feedback. Bespoke coaching programmes will support every teacher in their classroom. KwaraLEARN helps our teachers to become highly-skilled, through training and motivation to succeed at their job. And it will provide Kwara’s learning leaders, our State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), with unprecedented levels of knowledge and information about the success of every single state primary school.
This approach, combining structured pedagogy with the gathering of real-time data for accountability and feedback, is one recommended by the World Bank, as governments everywhere deal with the impact of the covid-19 pandemic, and the school closures which accompanied it, on children’s education.
In Nigeria, we know that transformational reform cannot be delayed. A recent UNICEF assessment suggested that 70% of 10-year-olds across the country cannot understand a simple sentence or manage basic numeracy.
This has been worsened in Nigeria and elsewhere by Covid-19 which caused huge damage to our education system and our communities. As we in Kwara emerge from the pandemic, my team and I are taking action to ‘build back better’. We envision a state that policymakers refer to as a successful model of education reform post-pandemic.
We are therefore determined to deliver dramatic improvements in learning outcomes for our children across Kwara State. Not only is access to quality education their right, improving their numeracy and literacy skills will allow our pupils to compete with their peers anywhere in the world.
We believe that the path to prosperity is through the education of the Kwara child. Along with our phenomenal investments in physical infrastructure and other things, education underpins economic growth, stability, and sustainable development.
We are confident that the KwaraLEARN programme will be an outstanding success and birth measurable improvements in learning outcomes delivered quickly. Our technical partners, NewGlobe, have already delivered them in support of similar programmes in Edo and Lagos States, and we trust them to do a lot more to partner with other stakeholders towards returning basic education in Kwara State to the dream of our founding fathers.
UNESCO’s New Social Contract for Education calls on governments to focus on “placing greater emphasis on improving learning outcomes in our education systems, and employing new techniques and methodologies that have been proven to yield better results for our students”.
This is precisely what we are doing through KwaraLEARN. We are adopting an approach proven in the Global South, and more importantly within Nigeria, suited to our unique circumstances, away from a historical focus on the replication of ideas and institutions from the industrialised North.
KwaraLEARN represents our vision for a stronger and more prosperous Kwara. A Kwara that is recognised in Nigeria and across West Africa as a leader in reforms that will deliver economic growth and more sustainable futures for our population. KwaraLEARN will transform all government primary schools across the state into powerful public schools, moving them from an analogue approach to one of digital transformation.
This transformational approach to our education system will deliver radically improved outcomes for our children. That success will be seen quickly, giving this generation of children the potential to transform Kwara State.
• AbdulRazaq is Governor of Kwara State