The Edo State Government has commenced the reform of the basic education sector with the ongoing schools census exercise which will provide credible and reliable data for planning while the inspectorate department is being revamped.
The Special Adviser to the Governor on Basic Education and Sole Administrator, State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Dr. Joan Oviawe, disclosed this in a chat with journalists at the Government House, Benin City.She said Governor Godwin Obaseki is keen on teacher professional development and data-driven decision-making, which was what inspired the school census being carried out in the state, noting, “We don’t just do things randomly. We have started taking a census of schools. We want to know the number of schools, pupils, and teachers in the state. After this, we will then know which subject area to focus our recruitment efforts.”
Oviawe maintained that a key part of the exercise is population mapping, and added, “We need to know the number of people that are enrolled in the schools. If you visit some of the schools within Benin metropolis and across the state, you will find out that there are schools with less than 100 pupils. With that, you can determine which school is viable or not.“It is possible that there are schools in the area that are not populated. We may need to close them down and open others in highly populated areas. But in order to do that and avoid any form of unfounded allegation of impropriety, we have to know the number of children and how they are dispersed.”
She said the state government was bringing back what worked in the state in the past and adding modern techniques and reform that would bequeath children the best of learning experience.
Stressing that the state government was keen on monitoring private school operators, she said, “We are strengthening regulation. The Inspectorate arm of the education ministry is being strengthened to deliver its mandate. We are building a strong monitoring and evaluation system at the basic education level.
“It is not about catching people doing the wrong thing. It is about adopting preventive measures and providing constant professional development training so that the teachers can perform better,” Oviawe said.
She explained that the state was keen on reversing the rot in the basic education system, adding, “There is a rapid decline in our public education system. All these didn’t start today; it has been a long time coming. Some have argued that it started in the era of the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) in the 1980s when government was advised to cut-back on its spending on social welfare including education. That is what we are starting to tackle now. We want to bring back quality into our basic education system.”
She noted that Governor Obaseki has brought accountability to the system, stressing, “We have a 48-hour deadline to respond to files here. And this happens across different ministries in the state. So, we are being held accountable when things don’t go well.”