By Simeon Nwakaudu
On October 18, the Federal Ministry of Education and the World Bank officially launched the State Education Investment Project, SEPIP, aimed at further improving the basic education sub-sector of the nation. This is another programme initiated with the aim of further deepening the gains already recorded by this administration in this critical area.
Between 2011 and now, the Jonathan administration has developed key international partnerships with UNESCO, Educate-A-Child Foundation in Qatar, an international group of education civil society groups led by former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the Japan International Cooperation Agency, JICA, British Department for International Development, DFID, the United States Agency for International Development, USAID, and Korea International Cooperation Agency, KOICA.
The partnerships mentioned above have translated into more classrooms, better trained teachers and better learning environment all across the country. These international development partners are now ever willing to participate in the Education Transformation Agenda because of the successes the administration has recorded in its four year strategic plan for the development of the education sector, 2011-2015.
It is no wonder that the World Bank has also fully keyed into the forward moving development train via the SEPIP programme. Given the objectives outlined for this programme, it is bound to be another major step towards fully reviving the nation’s basic education.
Simply put, SEPIP will work with the Federal Government and support education programmes in three participating states of Anambra, Bauchi and Ekiti to improve the quality of their education. In essence, the programme seeks to ensure a more equitable access to quality education in the three states, while enhancing the efficiency of the education framework.
The three states in the programme serve as pilot states and they were selected via a transparent process. The transparent process was hinged on the need to match project intervention with prevailing state capacity, while ensuring that the selected states have adequate implementation support.
The states have also demonstrated commitment and ownership, existence of a sufficient fiduciary framework, quality of education sector plan and a strong commitment to the adoption of a performance based approach.
This programme aims to address inequities in the basic education sub-sector. In this case, enhancing the coverage of the poor in the delivery of specific services, focusing on rural areas and gender aspects, correcting gender imbalance amongst teachers, focusing attention to retention of girls in Bauchi and boys in Anambra, while ensuring that women are duly represented in school-based management committees.
The programme further seeks to enhance the capacity of the school-based management committees, SBMCs, to be involved in social accountability in schools. This is in respect of planning, budgeting and delivery of education services at the school level.
Generally, the Jonathan administration is working on all fronts to ensure that a sound basic education foundation is laid across the country. This decision is premised on the sound reasoning that the basic education sector plays a key role in development of the tertiary education sector where professionals who drive the economy are produced.
Supervising Minister of Education, Barr. Ezenwo Nyesom Wike at the launch of SEPIP assured the World Bank that the Federal Ministry of Education will partner closely it to ensure the success of the programme. He said that the ingredients of the programme are in line with the administration’s quest to build a virile education sector.
It is necessary to point out that the retention of less privileged boys and girls in our schools remains critical for the overall development of our nation. In choosing two key states with challenges in the retention of boys and girls in basic education institutions, the Federal Government and World Bank have chosen to drive a process that will inculcate the needed expertise in teachers and education administrators to resolve this challenge.
Beyond retention these kids in schools, the needed expertise to administer schools in internationally acceptable standards where school administrators will be accountable for their actions remains another key expected gain.
Recall that only recently The United Nation’s Secretary General’s Special Envoy on Global Education, Gordon Brown mobilized the international community to support the Federal Government with S250million USD. The Federal Government matched the grant given the basic education S500million USD to develop the sector.
This time, the World Bank will support the SEPIP programme in the three states with S150millionUSD. This funding arrangement is expected to galvanise the states of Anambra, Bauchi and Ekiti to achieve the desired educational milestones in the areas spelt out in the programme framework. Indeed, funding will be no issue.
Country Director of World Bank, Dr Saleh El-Arnaout reiterated the Supervising Minister of Education statement that the S150USD being provided by the financial institution will be used to improve key aspects of basic education in the three participating states.
Anambra State Education Commissioner, Dr. Uju Okeke speaking on behalf of benefitting states noted that the participating state governments are determined to make a success out of the programme. She was full of praises for the Jonathan administration for always initiating programme that are need-specific to improve the quality of education in the states.
The reform in the education sector is a total package. No sub-sector is neglected as President Jonathan plans to build an education sector all well-meaning Nigerians will be proud of. In this case, from the basic education up to the tertiary level.
Simeon Nwakaudu is the Special Assistant (Media) to the Supervising Minister of Education.