By Lukman Olabiyi, Lagos
A major new study by 2019 Nobel Prize-winning economist Professor Michael Kremer has been published examining the methodology behind some of Nigeria’s landmark education reforms,
The groundbreaking study on an approach to teaching, learning and school management, started in Kenya before arriving in Nigeria, has announced learning gains among the “largest ever measured in education international”.
The impact is among the largest of any rigorously studied intervention in emerging markets.
The methodology powered by NewGlobe, an education technical partner that supports visionary governments in transforming public education, is the same used in Governor Sanwo-Olu’s Education Transformation Program EKO Excellence in Education and Learning (EKOEXCEL)
This same integrated approach to teaching and learning acclaimed by Professor Kremer has been adopted by the Lagos State Government to support public primary school teachers and the Basic Education Board of the State. Lagos State with the introduction of EKOEXCEL in all primary schools in the state. Launched in 2019 and made free to students by the Lagos State Government, EKOEXCEL has made remarkable achievements. More than 18,000 school leaders and teachers have been retrained using the EKOEXCEL methodology. More than 14,000 primary school teachers from 1,011 public primary schools were also captured as part of the program.
The highly anticipated study by Professor Kremer and his co-authors found that early childhood development (ECD) and primary school students in the studied curriculum gain nearly an extra year of learning (0. 89) as part of the NewGlobe integrated methodology, learning in two years what their peers in other mainstream schools learn in almost three.
For students in early childhood development (ECD), the gains were even greater. ECD students using the same methodology as EKOEXCEL gained nearly a year and a half of extra learning (1.48), learning in two years what students in other schools learn in three and a half years.
Basic literacy gives children a better chance in life, but the World Bank estimates that 50% of children in low- and middle-income countries cannot read with comprehension by their tenth birthday.
The recently published study found that a first grade student (approximately 7 years old) is three times more likely to be able to read when taught using the same methods used in EKOEXCEL.
The study results place learning gains in the top 1% of learning gains ever rigorously studied at scale in low- and middle-income countries. Assuming similar impacts during a student’s primary schooling, students in NewGlobe-supported schools would receive 53% more education during their early childhood and primary schooling.
The study was conducted over two school years and included more than 10,000 students from lower socio-economic backgrounds using indicators such as access to electricity and whether houses had dirt or earth floors .
Professor Michael Kremer, Nobel Laureate 2019, said: “The effects of this study are among the largest in the international education literature, especially for a program that was already working at scale. “This study shows that attending schools with highly standardized education has the potential to produce dramatic learning gains on a large scale, suggesting that policy makers may wish to explore the incorporation of standardization, including standardized lesson plans and teacher feedback and tracking, in their own systems.”
The relevance of the study’s findings for political leaders and decision makers is clear. When students are better educated, the economy benefits greatly. Economic growth follows improved schooling, which improves opportunities for a country’s youth and for the economy’s workforce.
Attesting to the success of the EKOEXCEL program, Governor Sanwo-Olu indicated that Nigeria does not need to adopt other e-learning solutions from outside the country as the one inside (EKOEXCEL) works good. He further revealed that Lagos borrowed EKOEXCEL’s methodology from EdoBEST and increased its impact threefold. Sanwo-Olu said, “I generally recognize Governor Obaseki because I copied something he introduced in his first term that works three times in Lagos, education. He started EdoBEST and tapped Bridge (New Globe), an e-learning solution provider with tablets for basic education.
“So you can see that indeed we have started to do peer review. You don’t have to go to another country to copy what is already working well in our country. This is him who took the initiative and we said that we also have to start with basic education. We copied that from Edo; it works well in Lagos, and we are going to expand it.
If replicated at scale in public schools in other state governments, this integrated methodology could put more students on track to match the levels of academic performance achieved by their peers in middle- and upper-income countries. , potentially pushing Nigeria up the education rankings to match countries with three or four times the income per person.
The achievement of these results is not due to a single aspect of the programming, but rather to the integrated methodology which produces better academic performance and more equitable educational results. The study highlights a combination of methods deployed in EKOEXCEL Lagos State, including instructional design and ongoing professional development and support within this holistic system. This same combination of methods is recognized by the Global Education Evidence Advisory Panel (GEEAP) and recommended as a “good buy” and highlighted as a priority to recover pandemic-related learning losses for students in low-income countries. and intermediate.
Like many education systems, the Covid-19 outbreak has impacted education in Lagos. However, the EKOEXCEL program allowed the children to continue learning unlike many of their peers. The state government has rolled out the biggest deployment of technology in Africa – donating half a million MP3 players to students to support distance learning. Even in a difficult educational landscape; EKOEXCEL continued to improve student learning.
As the study shows, an effective holistic learning system can deliver transformational learning outcomes at scale and address the endemic crisis of learning poverty. Around one million students in Africa – the vast majority in Nigeria – are currently being taught using the methodology of this groundbreaking study and that number is growing every year.