The advent of the Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu administration birthed the EKOEXCEL initiative, which was aimed at improving the basic education sector as the foundation of education and create a world standard 21st century technology-driven teaching-learning environment. Almost two years after the introduction of the initiative, OLAJIDE OMOJOLOMOJU takes a look at how far the initiative has impacted on the basic education sector of Lagos State.
With the advent of the Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu administration in 2019 came the THEMES Agenda of the administration, with education and technology embedded in the first E in the THEMES Agenda.
As part of the administration’s commitment to lift education, especially the basic education subsector, to the next level, Governor Sanwo-Olu introduced the EKOEXCEL initiative in 2019. EKOEXCEL is abbreviation which simply means EKO Excellence in Child Education and Learning.
According to Governor Sanwo-Olu, the reason behind the initiative in all public primary schools was “to change the learning outcomes for pupils.”
The governor had said, “In the last couple of years, we have built strong foundations…We invested in curriculum development through EKOEXCEL to change the learning outcomes from our schools.
“We believe a solid foundation for our children starts with qualitative primary education; hence our deliberate focus on primary school education and reform.”
Two years after the advent of the EKOEXCEL initiative in Lagos State basic education sector, an elated Sanwo-Olu, celebrated two years of excellence in the basic education sector in the Centre of Excellence.
The governor pledged further investment in education following the success the EKOEXCEL programme has achieved.
He said, “We will continue the massive investment in the education sector by improving the capacity and welfare of our school personnel, making the sector more ICT-compliant, exposing our teachers to international best practices.
“Our administration is irrevocably committed to give utmost attention to the education sector, particularly the public school system.”
EKOEXCEL is a government-designed, funded and led programme, which is transforming the basic education sector in Lagos State, by upgrading over 1,000 primary schools into world-class 21st century learning environments that deliver results.
And what are these results? Results in learning, as EKOEXCEL is dramatically accelerating learning, twice in mathematics and thrice in literacy that schools without EKOEXCEL.
Enthusiastic schools, which have become more energetic and joyful, where pupils are eager to come to school.
Support for teachers, where the teachers always have what they need to succeed, with thousands of hours invested in additional teacher coaching.
Upskilled teachers are trained for the modern classroom, with state-wide training in future-ready pedagogy delivered to all EKOEXCEL teachers.
Learner-centred environment, as every pupil gets the individual attention he or she needs in a rich learning environment.
Transformative technology is provided for teachers and pupils, with mp3 devices delivered to the pupils to aid and support learning at home.
Superior learning materials are made available with each classroom equipped with modern teaching-learning materials and pupils receiving more attention in a rich learning environment.
The effect of EKOEXCEL in the schools was so visible that within seven weeks, pupils in EKOEXCEL public schools advanced in numeracy twice as fast and in literacy thrice as fast as their peers.
EKOEXCEL is also helping pupils to learn better in a technology-driven environment.
EKOEXCEL, an excellence in child education and learning, which is an education transformation programme of the Sanwo-Olu administration to reposition basic education in Lagos State to enhance teacher effectiveness through leveraging technology to support, train and motivate teachers to improve children learning outcome at the primary school level.
Under the initiative, there are improvement in school activities, including enrolment of over 418,000 public primary school pupils; pupils’ attendance has improved from 37 per cent to 74 per cent; teachers’ attendance also improved steadily to 90 per cent; while the pupils’ are reading an average of 311 per cent more correct words per minute compared to pre-EKOEXCEL era and 87 per cent of parents confirm that children have improved since the commencement of the initiative in Lagos public primary schools.
The EKOEXCEL effect was co-authored by The NewGlobe, in partnership with Lagos State Universal Basic Education Board, LASUBEB.
The study evidenced accelerated student achievement gains, better classroom culture, and stronger curriculum management.
EKOEXCEL has dramatically accelerated student literacy and numeracy performance, showing statistically significant differences between student performance in EKOEXCEL schools versus their peers in traditional schools.
EKOEXCEL pupils advanced in numeracy twice as fast as pupils in traditional schools. In literacy, the contrast was even greater, with EKOEXCEL pupils progressing three times as fast as their peers in comparable schools.
EKOEXCEL also has more supportive learning environments and more positive behavioral expectations compared to non EKOEXCEL schools.
The classrooms were 85 per cent more likely to set positive behaviour expectations and 45 per cent more likely to have a supportive learning environment.
EKOEXCEL girls were right per cent more likely to attend school than girls in status quo classrooms; while attendance for boys across program and status quo schools was similarly strong at 92 and 93 per cent, respectively.
Also, EKOEXCEL classrooms were rated high or very high on two critical determinants of classroom culture: Supportive Learning Environment, SLE, and Positive Behavioral Expectations, PBE.
EKOEXCEL also has Self Study Activity Packets, SSAPs, which are scientifically-based, to help pupils studying at home practice and learn core concepts from the Nigerian Syllabus.
The SSAPs include sufficient practice problems, comprehension passages and other activities that help pupils progress through the core topics of the Lagos curriculum.
Each week, new EKOEXCEL@Home SSAPs are available for each grade level to be accessed free online. Pupils can also access past daily activity packets for additional practice and revision.
The SSAPs are available for Kindergarten, Nursery 1 and 2 and Primary 1 to 5. Not only that, they are parent-friendly, with adequate audio learning materials.
As is with every government initiatives, there have been criticisms trailing the EKOEXCEL initiative, however, despite the attending criticism of the initiative, parents of EKOEXCEL pupils, a critical stakeholder segment, have nothing but praises for the initiative. Hear one parent’s impression about the initiative, “My children are now more interested in going to school early than ever before, they come back home singing and teaching us new words and they even construct better sentences. For us, it’s a great feeling to see the changes EKOEXCEL has brought to our government schools.”
Another parent said, “My child is now excited and happy about going to school since the inception of EKOEXCEL, he is always talking about cheers and strive points now.”
The Sanwo-Olu-led administration has insisted that it will not adopt or embark on an education system that does not ensure the delivery of 21st century benefits of a modern-day primary education system.”
Findings revealed that the programme was designed in line with the National Curriculum on Education, with the lessons fully aligned to the Lagos State Scheme of Work, which is by extension aligned to the National Curriculum.
Speaking on the main challenges of the initiative, the Executive Chairman of the Lagos State Universal Basic Education Board, LASUBEB, Hon Wahab Alawiye-King, a former member of the Lagos State House of Assembly and the current Dean of Forum of SUBEB Chairmen in Nigeria, said that some of the initial challenges of the EKOEXCEL initiative included “technical glitches, comparison of traditional methods of teaching with the new methods, lesson completion rate,” among others.
He however assured that the programme is doing excellently well from where “we started, and where we are headed,” insisting that a lot of teething issues have been addressed, promising that LASUBEB will continue to improve upon it as EKOEXCEL progresses.
In responding to these challenges, the LASUBEB boss disclosed that the board mobilized field support officers to provide learning and development support to the teachers in their schools, adding, “This has in turn helped the teachers with lesson completion and improved their understanding and application of the methodology. There has also been increased motivation for the teachers, because of the successes recorded. Teachers are also more dexterous and have exhibited high level creativity in managing the class and time better.
“Also, there are dedicated WhatsApp groups and toll-free telephone lines for communications with teachers as part of the machineries put in place to ensure continuous support for teachers.”
Alawiye-King informed that the response to the EKOEXCEL initiative by stakeholders – teachers, parents, government officials, among other – has been tremendous.
He added that parents and stakeholders have showered the government with praises and encomium for this laudable educational initiative. For parents, they have expressed satisfaction, as their wards are more interested in learning and coming to school. Gone are the days you walk into a school without teachers present to teach. Through EKOEXCEL, teachers are receive unprecedented training, coaching, and support in all areas of learning management; starting from upskilling in the application of technology and the science of learning in their everyday functions, to constant coaching on lesson delivery, pupil motivation, classroom management and focus on pupil achievement.
“Thus, teachers, parents and communities have been very receptive due to the significant impact EKOEXCEL is making in teaching and learning outcomes.”
Rating the basic education sector, using the pre- and post-EKOEXCEL eras in Lagos State, Hon Alawiye-King revealed that before the advent of the Sanwo-Olu administration, the Key Performance Indicators, KPIs, Teacher Content Knowledge, Time on Task, Teacher Motivation, Pupil Attendance, Teacher Motivation and Pupil Learning Outcomes, were unimpressive.
Insisting that all the six KPIs affect pupils’ learning outcomes and contributed to the sub-par achievements in literacy and numeracy, he added, “With EKOEXCEL, all of the KPIs are being addressed by a technology-based platform, which provides teachers with all the necessary tools and support that they need to help their pupils learn. These indicators are consistently monitored and deliberately targeted by support staff, whose KPIs are predicated on optimal teacher and pupil performance.
“Delivery of scientifically based lesson plans in every EKOEXCEL classroom paired with world class classroom management techniques make learning far more likely to happen under the EKOEXCEL programme.
He further revealed that EKOEXCEL has already shown dramatic, research-proven gains in pupil learning: three times rate of learning, compared to non-EKOEXCEL pupils; two times rate of learning in numeracy, compared to non-EKOEXCEL pupils; EKOEXCEL on track to TRIPLE percentage of proficient readers by Primary 4.
He said, “As at the last day of examinations in school in Term 1 of 2021, which ended on 13th December, 2021, we recorded the following results for the above KPI’s: Total Pupils Registered – 417,816; Head Teacher Attendance – 98.3 per cent; Teacher Attendance – 98.4 per cent.
“Clearly the ability to monitor these KPIs and work deliberately to improve them is the game changer with EKOEXCEL.
The SUBEB boss also averred that so far, there are no key changes required, except to ensure continued improvement on usage and adaptability.
According to him, this would be done through constant engagement of stakeholders and tailored in line with the approved Nigerian curriculum.
Understanding and acknowledging the critical role of teachers in the teaching and learning process, Alawiye-King said that his board acknowledges and understands the teachers’ role as a critical index to the overall success of EKOEXCEL.
Subsequently, he revealed that through the initiative, teachers are being given extensive support.
He said, “To summarize, teachers are supported and consistently upskilled through the following system:
●Multi-day, in-person induction training for teachers and head-teachers;
●Fully-staffed regional team for data-driven coaching and professional development;
●Coaches and mentors visit each classroom three times a month to support teachers with specially equipped tool and instructional strategies;
●A well-trained resolution team constantly within reach through a toll-free customer care system, who are dedicated to support teachers on technology and other administrative issues.”
On the impact of EKOEXCEL on pupils’ enrolment and Out-of-School Children, OSC, in Lagos State, Alawiye-King averred that the initiative has “already shown dramatic, research-proven gains in pupil learning.”
He further disclosed that there are other initiatives of the Board which strengthens EKOEXCEL’s ability to drive results in enrolment rate and eradication OSC.
He added, “One of such is the board’s Project Zero Initiative – a programme designed to tackle the menace of OSC, particularly those who have dropped out of school due to the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 pandemic, by providing them with school uniform, writing materials, sandals and socks.
“All of these put together are part of the board’s effort to ensure that no child is left behind; and we will continue to upscale and evaluate as we progress.”
Asked what his board is doing to ensure continuity of this laudable initiative post-Sanwo-Olu administration, Alawiye-King averred, “Like every other government programme, EKOEXCEL takes cognizance of our socio-cultural dynamics, hence the capacities of our teachers and quality assurance officers are constantly being enhanced on the operations and as such, they are able to provide back end support where necessary. Also, technical expertise and direction is being supported by Lagos State Ministry of Science and Technology, to further enhance the efficiency of the programme.
“In essence, all stakeholders will readily support the continuity of the programme due to its visible impacts on the pedagogy, as well as teaching and learning outcomes.
“There is a transition plan collaboratively being worked between the technical partner and LASUBEB. This plan includes a roadmap of gradual handover of the program to government and other stakeholders.”
He therefore requested for the continued support and cooperation of all stakeholders, as LASUBEB is geared to continue to “provide qualitative and accessible basic educational service delivery to all pupils across all our 1,017 public primary schools in Lagos State.
“We will not relent in our effects to transform and reposition basic education in Lagos State to enviable greater heights.”