The future of any nation lies in the skills, strengths and interests of its youth. It is on this premise that the importance of investing in youth is paramount for any futuristic government. For a country like Nigeria where half of the population is young, this investment should be a priority.
That is why, in April 2022, Governor Godwin Obaseki revealed that the next step for Edo State’s flagship basic education program, EdoBEST, would be its implementation in junior high schools and youth-dominated higher education institutions.
As the world celebrates International Youth Day which is set aside to recognize the beauty of young people and put in place measures to make this rare demographic group more relevant to global development, it is inevitable to highlight EdoBEST light.
This year, the theme is instructive. “Intergenerational Solidarity: Creating a World for All Ages” borders on finding ways to improve the world by harnessing the strengths of all age groups in society as a timeline for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) approaches ).
The aim of this year’s International Youth Day theme is to amplify the message that action is needed across all generations to achieve the SDGs and leave no one behind. This is something that the mandate of Edo State under the Make Edo Great Again (MEGA) led by the government led by Obaseki, seeks to achieve.
As the heartbeat of the nation, Edo State boasts of a population of 3,233,366, of which about half of its adult population is categorized as youth. For a state as large as Edo State, it is important for the state government to invest in its youth demographics to safeguard the future of the state. True to its slogan, the state can be said to be taking the lead in resetting the future of Nigerians, especially those in Edo State.
The Place of Youth in Edo State
For many years, the youths of Edo State have been associated with various vices which have not only portrayed the state in a negative light but also demeaned the youths. This has effectively ensured a constant negative taint to the state’s human development index. Taking into account the need to create a safe environment for all, the state government has taken youth development seriously, effectively seeking ways to involve young people.
Deciding on education as the engine of youth development, Governor Godwin Obaseki noted that the mass exodus of young people from the state to other states and countries did not reflect the state in the right way. In a Financial Times article, Governor Obaseki noted that “the scale of human trafficking and irregular migration that peaked in 2016-2017 was our call to action. We were forced to focus on the root causes pushing them to migrate at any cost. »
One such root cause is the scarcity of the education sector and its inability to impart knowledge to future leaders, which has resulted in a significant learning deficit among young people, with some of them becoming unemployable. . Consequently, the government was faced with the need to reform the education sector, especially at the basic level.
Factors such as lack of educational content and shortages of teachers inevitably leading to an increase in the number of out-of-school children in Edo State have projected the need for sectoral reform to reset the future of youth from Edo. This gave birth to the EdoBEST reform.
The reform began in primary schools by taking basic education to the next level using digitized content, standardized curriculum and classroom management techniques aimed at improving learning outcomes, assimilation and participation in class. This has played a major role in influencing the mindset of young people, directing their thought processes towards positive ways of contributing to the economy.
The success of the program in public primary schools led to the extension of the program to secondary schools as part of the EdoBEST 2.0 program.
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Implementation of EdoBEST in lower secondary education
EdoBEST focused on reforming specific areas: governance and institutions, community engagement and partnerships, infrastructure, leadership, and most importantly, teacher development and curriculum. It did so through strategic positioning of teachers and education sector actors.
The Edo State government has extended the reform to 232 junior high schools effectively enrolling about 22,862 students in JSS in the 18 local government areas of Edo State.
The program has taken basic education to the next level, especially in hard-to-reach rural areas of the state with low enrollment and low teacher-student ratio. What this ensures is that more children in the state will have unfettered access to education. Moreover, they will be taught by experienced and well-trained teachers who are familiar with the EdoBEST pedagogy guaranteed to inspire success, increased assimilation through classroom participation and better learning outcomes.
The active training of 1,859 teachers and principals on the EdoBEST pedagogy strategically positioned these education actors to have impact in middle schools following the state’s disarticulation of the JSS under the UBEC Act.
For 10-year-old Jedidiah Johnson of Imaguero Junior High School, having to continue the EdoBEST program even as she pursues high school at another school is a blessing she can attribute to the Edo State Government . She, like her classmates, attends school every day to be taught by teachers who are grounded in classroom techniques that encourage maximum active student participation.
Jedidiah noted that having a dedicated teacher in her favorite subject, the English language, helped her improve her vocabulary, exposing her to new experiences through literature. She says it encourages her to achieve excellence in her studies.
“This term, I’m going to read my books to improve my vocabulary,” she says excitedly as she participates in the program’s [email protected] initiative while schools are on vacation.
Governor Obaseki’s passion for young people
Taking education to the next level to achieve Sustainable Development Goals 4 – Quality education, requires governments to institutionalize a better learning agenda that includes both formal, vocational and technical skills-enhancing education young people for the future. Edo State understands the importance of providing quality education to the child of Edo. This is why the EdoBEST 2.0 program not only continues to provide basic education services to children in EdoBEST schools, but expands its reach to cover TVET and higher education.
Using technology to rethink the entire cycle of delivery and accountability while rethinking teacher support, wellbeing, and training to drive classroom success, Edo State is systematically reforming society through l education and skill acquisition. Speaking to the Financial Times, a British business and economics daily that sheds light on new perspectives on various economies around the world, the Executive Governor of Edo State, Governor Godwin Obaseki, expressed his passion for the youth engagement in Edo State.
He said, “At the root of the social, economic and security challenges facing many African states is the failure of governments to provide quality mass education, especially in basic numeracy and literacy.
“It is the right of every child to receive a quality education. Denying anyone access is not just an abuse of their rights – it also reveals a catastrophic failure that must be fought, not overlooked.
This year, it is telling that the government has redefined the theme of International Youth Day to speak to the reality of the impact of the EdoBEST program and other innovative state government reforms.
The theme, “Resetting the Future, Empowering our Youth” is in keeping with the fact that the Edo State Government is resetting the future by using education as a driver for improving learning outcomes and, by ultimately, community development through the use of learned skills.
According to the Edo State Commissioner for Youth and Humanitarian Affairs, Christopher Nehikhare, “The Edo State Government takes youth issues very seriously, hence the state can pride itself on to be a state with the highest youth employment rate in Nigeria and our education program like EdoBEST is one of the best as it has been studied to be replicated.
Achieve the SDGs by 2030
The Sustainable Development Goals are a set of goals initiated by the United Nations as a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They address global challenges faced by developed and developing countries, including poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice.
As the world moves closer to the timetable for achieving these goals, it is important that it has an engine for sustainable development. Youth is a key driver in addressing these challenges and creating a sustainable future for all. An investment in young people is an investment in the future, creating an environment where every young person is a winner.
More efforts should be made to educate the future of the society – the young people. The government should invest more in education to enlighten the youth because an enlightened youth demographic is one that is equipped to bring about change in society and offer solutions to socio-economic challenges, thereby creating a world for all ages .