In response to the interest shown by the Governments of Six Southwest States towards improving the quality of basic education in the Region, DAWN Commission, with the support of DFID, facilitated a meeting of Education Policymakers and other Stakeholders; ranging from the Education Commissioners to SUBEB Chairs, Chairs of different Houses of Assembly’s Committee on Education and top bureaucrats working in the Education sector across the States.
The challenges militating against having a functional basic education system in the Region were discussed extensively as well as the need to collectively develop workable solutions to effectively address the identified problems the States are faced with in the Education Sector.
The platform also provided the opportunity for peer learning and experience sharing on good practices among the six Southwest States and also States from other Regions in the Country as Mrs. Yayi Phoebe Sukni, Permanent Secretary, Kaduna State Ministry of Education and Mrs Joahno Oviane, Edo State SUBEB Chair also brought learnings and experiences from implementing reforms in their respective States.
Also in attendance were the DFID Education Advisor, Mrs. Esohe Eigbike, and top DFID officials. Dr. Olatunde Adekola, the World Bank Education specialist, was also around to share data on the Southwest performance in education, while Mrs. Folashade Jaji, the Secretary to Lagos State Government, was the chief host who also had the honour of declaring the Forum open.
The Director-General of DAWN Commission, Mr. Seye Oyeleye, in his welcome address appreciated the interest of all the attendees in the Region’s education development and charged the policymakers to do more by rising up to the challenges of education in the Region and restore us to the glorious era when the region was synonymous with quality education. The Secretary to Lagos State Government, Mrs. Folashade Jaji, before declaring the event open, made a few remarks where she reiterated the need to focus on basic education as we prepare for the future. She also intimated the audience on the policies being implemented in Lagos State towards improving basic education.
The opening ceremony was followed by presentations from Dr. Olatunde Adekola of the World Bank, the DFID Consultants, Dr Sulaiman Adediran and Dr Oluwafunmilayo Olalusi and Prof. Olalekan Yinusa, State of Osun’s Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, on how to improve Southwest regional education service delivery, issues from institutional capacity analysis in Southwest education systems, using evidence to sustain ongoing reform and how to link policy, planning and budgeting in the planning and resource management cycle with a particular focus on education sector respectively.
The Head of Programmes at DAWN Commission, Abiodun Oladipo, made a presentation on the challenges facing the Education Sector in the Region. Mr. Oladipo, in his presentation, reiterated the need for the States to work together so we can build a good education system in the Region.
Dr. Adekola, in his presentation, focused on the challenges and the current state of education in the Southwest; at the basic and post basic level, stating that language, literacy and learning, low STEM pupil-teacher ratio, use of data for planning, ICT, teachers’ development programmes are critical areas that should be addressed.
He urged participants to be aware that the resources spent on education has correlation to the functionality of the educational systems with attendant effect on learning and desired outcomes. He provided evidence indicating how some Southwest States spending on education is not commensurate to the desired outcome. He opined that though the Southwest States can be said to be doing well when compared to other Regions of the country, but for him, the benchmark for the Southwest ought to be middle income countries like Malaysia, Singapore, Ghana, Kenya etc. He pointed out that a functional system, and not necessarily money, is the foremost mechanism to improving education outcomes. He emphasized the need for partnership, collaboration, and cooperation among the States and non-State actors as a tool for a regional advancement.
Dr. Adediran highlighted the issue of funding for basic education, especially on how the States can maximize the benefit of UBEC intervention fund while Dr. Olalusi premised her presentation on developing a legacy of sustainable and effective Roadmap using data. She spoke about the Integrated School Development (ISD) model as a tool for determining and measuring the level of development and the capacity of schools using school scoring system. This model is based on data collection for project interventions in schools whose impacts are measured over time. She submitted that ISD model engender decisions that are based on robust data that makes it easy for results to be measured.
Prof. Yinusa’s presentation focused on how to ensure the budget delivers value in the Education Sector. He advised participants to ensure effective collaboration between the Education Ministry and their counterpart in Economic Planning and Budget while they also build relationship with development partners. They must also have timely and comprehensive reporting on KPIs as contained in the results framework while ensuring availability of performance information to inform strategic resource allocation. He, however, advised that there should be a change of focus from short term to medium term or multiyear budgeting.
The Forum identified about six major challenges that will need to be addressed if we must have quality basic education that can prepare the young children of the Region for 21st century workplace. The identified issues are school governance, quality of teachers, out-of-school-children, digital literacy, substandard/unapproved private schools and of course, education data management. Meanwhile, the issues were not only highlighted but workable solutions were proffered with timelines for implementation that will be tracked through the Community of Practice (CoP) and this is to be managed by DAWN Commission.
Reported by Abiodun Oladipo and Oluyomi Agge