New training program launches to support 3,000 teachers in Nigeria
By Boco Abdul
September 1, 2016
SOKOTO, Nigeria — An in-depth training program to prepare more than 3,000 teachers to improve literacy skills of pupils in first to third grades kicked off in this Northern Nigerian state.
More than 100 elected officials and community leaders attended the Aug. 29 launch of the program that will train educators on global, best approaches to early grade reading in Hausa, which is one of the most common languages in Northern Nigeria, and the transition to English.
The Northern Education Initiative Plus, working closely with key federal and state government partners, developed the Mu Karanta! Let’s Read! titles of student books in Hausa and English for use in more than 800 schools in 10 local government areas in Sokoto state.
To institutionalize the teacher training program in Sokoto state, the project earlier trained 16 leading education experts as master trainers, who in turn are training 180 selected school managers as trainers-of-teachers. School managers are then responsible for training the 3,000 teachers to use teacher guides in line with the pupil books.
“Sokoto state government is committed to repositioning its education sector and will continue to partner with the Initiative to achieve this objective,” said Governor Aminu Tambuwal at the launch. “This teacher professional development program is the beginning of a milestone in education for us as people.”
Children face many challenges trying to access quality education in Northern Nigeria, the Governor noted.
“Low enrollment, retention and completion of school and poor early-grade reading opportunities” are serious impediments to the education sector according to Governor Tambuwal.
Sokoto state is making efforts to increase education opportunities for children that offer quality education. Through the Northern Education Initiative Plus, more than 150,000 students in first to third grades will benefit from its early grade reading program in 10 local governments in the first year.
Recognizing its potential to improve children’s reading skills, the state has committed to scaling up the program to all pupils in this category and teachers throughout Sokoto in the next two years.
Director of the Northern Education Initiative Plus program, James Statman said: “With the state taking the lead on the project, there will be more young children able to read and working towards securing a better future for themselves.”
Improving teachers’ skills
The project will train about 45,000 teachers and learning facilitators during a five-year period. These teachers will be equipped with a full set of instructional skills to teach reading for a direct and positive impact on their pupils’ learning outcomes.
Teachers will be trained using a curriculum that is age-appropriate for children, gender-inclusive, culturally sensitive and replicable by state governments.
Mu Karanta! Let’s Read! pupils’ books introduce the most frequently used letters and syllables in Hausa to instruct children.
To aid listening comprehension, locally developed and traditional stories have also been included in every lesson. This ensures that reading skills and vocabulary learned in Hausa will support the transition from Hausa to English.
The five-year, Nigerian government-led Northern Education Initiative Plus is funded by the U.S Agency for International Development (USAID) and aims to improve reading outcomes of more than 2 million primary grade learners in 6,868 schools and 11,129 non-formal learning centers.
The Initiative is implemented by Creative Associates International and other partners.