by Adeyinka Meduoye
Going forward, the government of Lagos state is steering excellence in learning for about 500,000 pupils across 1016 primary schools through EKOEXCEL. EKOEXCEL is an education reform programme that is successfully developing and expanding more highly skilled and competent teachers; by training, supporting and motivating already existing government teachers to succeed within the confines of their classrooms.
While the education reform programme is leveraging technology, it will enable teachers and headteachers to be more effective and efficient in their tutoring delivery. They are also being supported through in-person and ongoing coaching with the quality assurance team being supported with digital tools.
With the understanding that teachers are at the soul of successful learning. Introducing new training measures and models to support and provide them will impact pupil and teacher success simultaneously. The government designed, funded and led programme have become synonymous with both up-front and on-the-job training with a fundamental element of better methodology for teachers. The teachers — the focus — will become more skilful, more effective in helping concerned pupils to learn in a positive environment while improving on themselves.
In an exclusive conversation with an anonymous classroom teacher in one of the public school.
“The EKO EXCEL has come to stay considering the drastic changes it’s brought upon the face of public teachers and the pupils alike. Classroom interactions have changed positively. Our teachings are more impactful as we now sing more songs; there are various chants and answers between teachers and pupils aimed at keeping the children’s attention at the maxima, and there is also a character board where pupils’ reasoning and cognitive understandings are recorded for all to see.”
It was also gathered that the government-funded and led initiative has aided in Improving punctuality and checking truancy at all corners without leaving no stone unturned. According to another public school classroom teacher who disclosed that achieving punctuality was one of the objectives of the EKO EXCEL, and this was achieved through the provision of the tablet to teachers.
“As part of the education reform programme, we were provided with geo-located tablets that were used to track teachers and headteachers such that they could not lie about their exact location. The tablet will determine the coordinates of where I am. So the moment I turn it on, as the headteacher or as somebody that is monitoring, I will be able to see that the teacher is within a particular coordinate and what the teacher is teaching.”
” Additionally, teachers now report to school well before 7:00 am unlike the case before Eko EXCEL where some teachers strolled in without being disturbed.”
She further said punctuality had improved by 100 per cent.
“I can authoritatively say that punctuality is 100 per cent. Before Eko Excel I do resume school at 7.45 am. But now, I resume by 6:20 a.m.; my teachers come in between 6:20 and 6: 45 a.m. Of course, I am serious. That is it. I need to be here to log in to my teachers. It is well designed, and there is absolutely no way to log in at home as a teacher.” She said.
Speaking to a parent whose child attends one of the public schools said the initiative had helped her child improved especially in the aspect of mental and cognitive performances. According to her, her child will always sing songs that are well-educative in content and style, and this is as a result of what her child had learned in the classroom from the teacher.
“Except for public holidays, my child will never miss school, and when I asked, he will say his teacher knows how to teach well and impact them positively, and that his teacher will always tell them not to come to school late at any time. I can see the change in my child. The Lagos State government is doing well. This has reduced absenteeism and improve punctuality for my child.” The parent uttered.
In a swift conversation with another public school teacher, there is an issue with the timing of lessons and assessment
“Often have complained about the timing allotted to the lessons, which is too short. Take, for example, English and Mathematics are allotted 40 minutes, while other subjects get between 25 and 30 minutes, and teachers are expected to teach nine subjects a day, which has been a struggle.”
“With this, a topic disappears once the time allotted is up, the pupils end up not completing their notes and tasks before they are forced to move on. The subjects are too much for one day. We have nine subjects in a day. If it is between five and eight, it will be good. There is usually no time for the pupils to comprehend and assimilate what we are teaching them,” she said.
“The teacher is expected to read, then the children would read before they answer the questions. The timing does not work. I want to suggest that the timing should be adjusted. Subjects like English and Mathematics should be given more time. To do so, you have to reduce the number of subjects done each day,” she continued.
Speaking to two public school pupils shows the pros and cons of the led government initiative in EkoExcel. One of the pupils disclosed that the lessons learned from his teacher is impactful and have helped changed his knowledge and understandings on subjects of concern.
“Our teacher teaches us well. Sometimes, she used to sing some songs for us, and we will be dancing around the class. Her songs used to make us know more in class, and this has improved our classroom performances. I can now recite a topic using one of our teacher songs” He said.
“The time for lessons is too short for we the pupils to finish writing. Some of us are not so fast in writing. Sometimes, my teacher usually leaves the notes on the board so we can copy later when we have to move on to another subject,” another pupil disclosed.
A careful assessment shows that the major challenge of the Eko Excel initiative fault on the tablet provided to the teachers gave no room for corrections. With the tablet, sometimes the lesson notes are not explicit. They do not explain enough and teachers are bound to adhere strictly to them, and this hampers not just the performance of the pupils but the improvement of the teachers.
Regarding this, the Eko Excel has come to stay with its shapeshift in the educational mirage in public primary schools across the State. We could feel the improvement in the impact areas of the teachers and also on the overall performance of the pupils within the confines of the classroom.