Sanwo-Olu, Setting The Benchmark For Education In Nigeria: The EKOEXCEL Case-Study

December 7, 2022

When he formally launched his bid for a second term on Saturday, December 3, Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu touched on his achievements in education.

He said, “Lagosians can testify to our feats in education. Over 1,000 new classrooms have been added to public schools, and we completed over 1,097 projects in schools.

“We trained our teachers in modern teaching techniques through EKOEXCEL and handed over tablets to them for teaching. Overall performance of Lagos students in WAEC has improved from 42 per cent to over 83 per cent.

“Though he was right, the Governor somewhat undersold his achievements. Apart from being a key pillar of his THEMES development plan for Nigeria’s first megacity, Sanwo-Olu has demonstrated uncommon commitment to the overall educational development in the state. Looking at the state’s annual budget since his coming into office, education has taken a significant portion after health and infrastructure.

“In 2022, he allocated the lion’s share of N171.6 billion to education and next year, it will take the third largest share of the budget. While 20.06 per cent (N339 billion) of the 2023 budget is for infrastructure and, 11.29 per cent (N191 billion) for healthcare and the environment, 9.07 per cent (N153.5 billion) is for education.

“Apart from the budgetary allocations, the Governor is also taking concrete policy steps to improve learning by empowering and motivating teachers to give their best while creating a conducive learning environment for pupils.

Undergirding all this is the deployment of technology to improve basic education further and bring Lagos’ to par with what obtains in other countries with EKOEXCEL, a strategic technology-driven intervention that continues to record remarkable successes. Part of EKOEXCEL’s success has been improving learning gains among pupils. Commendably, empirical studies have affirmed this.

The EKOEXCEL 2020-2021 End line Fluency and Numeracy Evaluation showed that EKOEXCEL pupils are making remarkable progress in oral reading fluency and foundational numeracy compared to their last performance.

Year 6 pupils were also outstanding in the previous National Common Entrance Examination.
Another study by award-winning Nobel laureate, Professor Michael Kremer, also acknowledged the impacts of EKOEXCEL’s methodology as being implemented by its technical partner, New Globe, which operates the same in Kenya.

Kremer and his co-authors, including Guthrie Gray-Lobe, Anthony Keats, Isaac Mbiti and Owen Ozier, critically examined the benefits to student outcomes of a structured and standardised approach to teaching and learning in Kenya.

Its findings showed that primary students through Grade 6 gained almost an additional year of learning (0.89) under the NewGlobe integrated methodology, learning in two years what their peers learn in nearly three.

For early childhood school students, the gains are even more significant. Those students supported by NewGlobe gained almost an additional year and a half of learning, learning in two years what students in other schools learn in three and a half years.

Kremer noted that “this study shows that attending schools delivering highly standardised education has the potential to produce dramatic learning gains at scale, suggesting that policymakers may wish to explore the incorporation of standardisation, including standardised lesson plans and teacher feedback and monitoring, in their systems.

“Apart from the transformational innovation, the Lagos State government has also prioritised teachers’ welfare by upskilling them and improving their welfare.

At this year’s Lagos State Annual Teachers’ Merits awards, Governor Sanwo-Olu presented 13 teachers and administrators with brand-new SUVs and other prizes, rewarding them for excellence and diligence in teaching.

Among the 13 were four public primary school teachers under the EKOEXCEL programme.

On that occasion, the governor reiterated his administration’s commitment to using education as a weapon to develop Lagos and influence the teaching profession. “Through EKOEXCEL, thousands of teachers have been up-skilled through re-training and the use of technology that supports and motivates them to succeed in their classrooms.

“This accentuates the importance of education to this administration and our continuous effort to strengthen the workforce’s capacity through employment opportunities for qualified teachers with a passion for teaching.

“We have also instilled local and international training for our teachers, creating an enabling environment for teaching and learning,” he said.

At the 2022 World Teachers’ Day celebration, Sanwo-Olu announced the approval of a pay raise for teachers. That was in addition to implementing new welfare packages for the teachers, further underscoring the governor’s commitment to their wellbeing.

But the most important is the pupils. The current administration has not held anything back from ensuring that the ones in school have an enjoyable time and remain there while the out-of-school ones join them.

The state has significantly reduced its burden through its flagship Project Zero explicitly dedicated to out-of-school children.

LASUBEB’s enrollment drives, supported by EKOEXCEL’s support team are also helping to tackle the out-of-school menace. Because it’s now a knowledge economy and the future belongs to those with adequate knowledge, the introduction of technology including learning tablets has stirred pupils’ interest in science, as three pupils who represented the state in the 2022 National Jets Competition were admitted.

John Daniel from St. Francis Primary School, Maryland, who came second in the quiz competition, said, “My favourite thing about the EKOEXCEL programme is the striving pupils and the great work sections of the character board, which keeps every learner on their toes both morally and academically. It has allowed me to keep adding to my ever-growing vocabulary with new words learned from the vocabulary section of most subjects.

“Two girls who presented an air and temperature monitoring system they developed using an embedded approach, Unique Emmanuel and Sarah Adeyemi of Monsuru Agoro Primary School, Mafoluku, also hailed the intervention.

Emmanuel said, “EKOEXCEL has impacted more knowledge in my life. I have learned so many things through the programme, and I so much love the strive points.

“Learning through the EKOEXCEL programme has made me know faster and think faster. It has also made me organised and punctual in school. It allows for interaction whenever our teacher asks us to discuss it during a lesson.”

Adeyemi, on her part, commended the variety of textbooks they get under the scheme.

“This helps me to read widely and acquire more knowledge. It also helped me to excel in my last JETS competition and brought victory to the state and the school. “EKOEXCEL motivates us to learn in class through songs and teaching.

“Instructively, the technology successfully deployed in primary schools is now being adopted in secondary schools with the recent unveiling of a newly-built containerised technology-driven modular classroom block in Vetland Junior Grammar School, Agege.

At the unveiling, Governor Sanwo-Olu said the nine-classroom block was built to replace decrepit concrete structures in Vetland Junior Grammar School, a government-owned model college.

The interactive modular classrooms were improvised using standardised reusable freight compartments, known as containers.

Each classroom compartment is adequately insulated to give comfort and create a conducive ambience for hybrid learning for children in public secondary schools.

The governor said the IT-enabled modular interactive classrooms would make a lasting impact on the state’s effort to make basic education accessible.

Aside from equipping the classrooms with interactive touch screens, Mr Sanwo-Olu said the pupils would be given electronic tablets to aid both in-class and virtual learning.

“The development of containerised modular classrooms is a welcome milestone on our journey toward ensuring that no child is left behind in Lagos. Our goal, as a government, is to build learning spaces of the future, thereby bequeathing public schools that are driven by cutting-edge technology and that can compete favourably with the best schools anywhere in the world,” he said.

With the priority he has given education, there’s no gainsaying that Mr. Sanwo-Olu would do more in his second term so that Lagos becomes the best nationally.

Thorpe, a child development and education consultant, writes from Lagos.

This article appeared originally on Daily Independent, Dec 07, 2022.