Nigeria: Out-of-School Children - Edo Records 40% Increase in Enrollment Yearly

14 September 2023

Since the inception of Edo Basic Education Sector Transformation programme (EdoBEST), there has been a tremendous increase in the enrollment of children into Early Childhood Care, Development and Education (ECCDE).

This is even as the Edo State Universal Basic Education Board (EdoSUBEB) has disclosed that the state has recorded over 40 per cent of school enrollment increase yearly.

This is coming on the heels of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) most recent data, which revealed that Nigeria has 13.5 million out of school children in 2021. Though, Edo state has the lowest number of out-of-school children with 76,446, the implementation of the EdoBEST programme, has improved basic education across the state and reduce the rate of out of school children.

The executive chairman, EdoSUBEB, Mrs Eyitayo Salami, disclosed this while speaking to LEADERSHIP correspondent, at a two day media workshop on "Turning the Tide on Nigeria's Learning Crisis, a Southwest Media Dialogue on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy (FLN)," organised by the Lagos state directorate of National Orientation Agency (NOA), in collaboration with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), on Thursday, in Edo state.

Salami averred that the tremendous increase in the enrollment of children into ECCDE, which has culminated in the overall enrollment of children into Junior and Senior Primary schools.

For instance, the executive chairman explained that ECCDE one and two, currently provide most enrolment records for ECCDE three and subsequently Primary one. "95 per cent of pupil in ECCDE three transitioned from ECCDE two. Also, 90 per cent of pupil in Primary one transitioned from ECCDE three; ECCDE one and two, currently provide most enrolment records for ECCDE three and subsequently Primary one," she further explained.

She averred that early childhood education is about developing and molding the whole child, which will serve as the foundation for their lifelong journey, even as she disclosed that EdoBEST has increased the amount

of teaching, teacher technology, and textbooks in each school.

"Teachers now deliver

high-quality and supportive learning experiences; pupils also engage in productive learning activities. The state has recorded seven per cent larger learning gains in numeracy and six per cent larger learning gains in literacy in EdoBEST schools compared with non-EdoBEST schools," she stated.

In the same vein, the commissioner for education, Edo State Ministry of Education, Dr. Joan Oviawe, said the present governor of Edo state, governor Obaseki has ensured that the education of an Edo child is his priority.

"For the last six years, we have focused on quality education, literacy and numeracy under our EdoBest education reform programme. Which is why in 2013, Edo state was selected as one of the accelerator countries. We are the only state in Nigeria, that was selected among other African countries, because of the progress we have made in the eradication of learning poverty," she disclosed.

As an accelerator state, Oviawe averred that in the last few years, the state has focused on tracking learning patterns, adding that, "We are pushing our learning patterns to be in line with the National standard. We have also introduced the learning assessment, that helps us to assess pupils at each level. We are testing them when moving to primary two, primary six and in JSS 3.

"With the learning assessment, we were able to measure both aspects from the perceptive of the learners and the teachers. Having corrected the foundational literacy and numeracy, we are now at the point in Edo state, where we are now focusing on replications. For those at the higher level, who do not know how to read and write, we cannot just send them away, hence the reason the government has set up 'operation, every child must read and write', programme.

"The state governor has ensured that we bring education to everybody, irrespective of their age. You don't have to go to a physical school to learn how to read and write. We have made the provision available. You can have your own private tutor to teach you how to read and write. With all these interventions, Edo state is on the way to having a proper education system that ensure access to education and promote quality education."

Meanwhile, education specialist, UNICEF, Babagana Aminu, revealed that COVID-19 increased learning poverty rate in low- and lower-middle income countries from 57 per cent to 72 per cent in three years.

Aminu, however, posited that the learning poverty rate would be reduced to 65 per cent with historical trend (status quo, no action) or 48 per cent under a stretch-challenge scenario, even as he alluded that if countries' keep their commitments based on their SDG4 pledges, learning poverty would be reduced to 38 per cent from pre-pandemic levels.

"Despite the devastation of COVID-19 on education systems, it has presented a number of opportunities," educational specialist said, adding that, "Digital learning was always on the margin as it is a fundamental equity strategy. We are shifting from fixed time learning to personalised learning and digital learning is a key enabler."

He explained that the Learning Passport (LP) developed by UNICEF, Microsoft, Cambridge, and supported by the Boston Consulting Group, is a supplementary library of global content for children and youth online or offline, with an individualized record of learning. "LP provides continuous access to education for all children, youth, and teachers around the world and drive improved learning outcomes through high-quality, portable education in formal and non-formal education settings," he further stated.

In Nigeria, Aminu disclosed that the Nigerian Learning Passport has helped closed the learning gaps in the country. "With support from Airtel, 520 Primary and Junior Secondary schools and 100 IQS/Non-Formal school have received devices with LP app, connected to internet, with target to connect 300 more in 2023.Also, 30,000 teachers were trained in 2022 with a target of 27,000 in 2023. IHS towers has also connected 187 schools and provided connectivity/signal to 400 unconnected communities in 2022 with target of 200 schools in 2023.

"In the pipeline for end of year 2023, UNICEF intends to provide 100 solar systems (to power devices and modem in schools with no or unreliable electricity) and create 150 offline hub devices."

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