One of the few legacies of the present administration under Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi is, arguably, the government’s indelible marks on the education sector.
The administration has been able to set some standards that will serve as compass for successive governments. The imprint of the present administration could be tailored down to the choice of its education managers and administrators who have been setting the pace and standard for new formative and learning processes.
Enugu State, in recent times, has become the new bride of education management in the country due to the success status and accomplishments it has been recording over the past few years. The sector had suddenly rejigged from its staggering state of dormancy, almost left behind by other states, to a towering beacon of hope bearing the torchlight of a pacesetter.
It started from the state universal basic education well supervised by one of the finest administrators to the post primary school level (secondary school education) being overseen by a versatile, resourceful and lettered administrator and teacher.
The push for a redefinition and radical shift in the education curriculum was initiated in the secondary school system shortly after the Post Primary Schools Management Board’s (PPSMB) Executive Chairman, Dr. Favour Ugwuanyi, took over the mantle of leadership in 2022. It was, indeed, a tortuous journey that displaced the old, rustic and crude learning mode and birthed a system of education, through its innovative pedagogical standard, infrastructure and disciplined environment had since become a force and recognized competitor in the global educational order which is swiftly moving away from the traditional model of knowledge impartation to a more advanced, technology-based learning.
This short article, therefore, will attempt to limit its focus on this new system of learning and how it has enhanced the learning process and intellectual curiosity of both teachers and students.
Generally, the pedagogical standard in Nigeria basic and post-basic schools, saves few privately owned schools, has been replete with traditional mode of learning with poor physical infrastructure making any innovation or improvement in the pedagogical process difficult. Available data from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) still reveals the rather sad but breathtaking seismic vault between the already outlived Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as it relates to education in Nigeria.
The country’s educational system still struggles to achieve the goals of the MDGs years after the world had migrated to the SDGs; a modern technological-based knowledge formation. In order to push this objective and do a “rush catch up” with its contemporary, the governor could have been deliberate in the choice of who manages the affairs of the critical sub-sector of the education system. This informed the timely appointment of Mrs. Favour Ugwuanyi for the dire reform and innovation.
Soon after taking office, some reforms, tagged “paradigm shifts” were taken to fit the school system and its curriculum into the global tsunami sweeping across all sectors since they’re intertwined. Education sector is just one of them, however, it’s the most important of them all.
Overnight, smart education was introduced into the learning process, gradually restoring public confidence back to publish schools. This could have been possible because of her trainings in different professional fields and her experiences as a teacher, instructor and trained formative specialist in educational assessments.
A close study of the restructuring that blew through the reform processes, where displacements of archaic teaching styles were imminent, could be seen through the lenses of innovation, digital technologies, computers and other teaching and learning aids, all capped up in smart education.
Smart education, introduced for the first time in public schools by the PPSMB Chairman, is defined as a technology driven learning system that supports and enhances the capacity of the instructors or teachers while enabling the learners or students to learn more efficiently, effectively, comfortably, and flexibly. This has been further stressed to include the effective and coherent use of information and communication technologies to arrive at a learning outcome deploying a suitable and adaptable pedagogical approach.
A visit to some of the secondary schools would fascinate one’s sense of epistemological inquisitiveness, satisfaction and the learning outcomes the approach employed by the PPSMB under Mrs. Favour Ugwuanyi’s watch yielded within a short period.
This was no easy task achieving these great feats. It needs commitment, dedication, discipline and courage to whittle the traditional resistance usually associated with change and reform. To accommodate teachers and make them, first, productive to themselves, and second, bear meaningful outputs through their students, the Chairman had to engage them in requisite and climacteric training mission where resource personnel had to take them on the new pattern of learnings and teachings.
Aside the general workshops and seminars, teachers and instructors were trained on the use of computer and other facilitating devices for teaching. E-learning, E-book, smart-boards, etcetera, were introduced as means of preparing them for migration into a digital teaching space required in today’s 21st century. This is novel to the system before her assumption of office.
In addition, the importance of skills acquisition and technical training that overhauled the face of education meant at capturing the school children at young age became a fundamental incorporation in the curriculum. Through various skills summits organised by the board, students started thinking outside the classroom to practical acquisition of skills that could be commercialized.
Indeed, this is the convergence of one of the educational policies of the incoming administration, much elaborated in the manifesto—Statement of Purpose, which explained its cut out programmes for every growing child of age 12 to acquire at least a skill before age 18. It’s absolutely commendable as it will build able-bodied self-reliant citizens.
Between 2021 and 2022, the state emerged first and best in its West Africa Examination Council’s results rating with over 93% success. This couldn’t have been possible without the trainings given to teachers and students and without the discipline mechanism introduced by the Favour Ugwuanyi’s laudable projects management and educational supervision.
Today, most parents are reckoning with these new policies meant at stamping out inefficiency, indiscipline, failure and rot in the educational system while sanctioning a new reward mechanism, teaching and learning processes, intellectual and practical pursuits that will not only build a self-confident and versatile grandaunt but also contribute in nation-building.
Chris Onyekwere, a London-trained Educationist, writes from Enugu.