Reading project praised by Nigeria’s Vice President at education conference

By Adebisi Modupe Adetunji

December 13, 2019

ABUJA, Nigeria — In his keynote address at Nigeria’s fifth Annual Education Conference, the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo recognized the incredible successes of the Northern Education Initiative Plus project (NEI Plus) and encouraged communities to use education to build the country’s potential.

NEI Plus took a lead role at the conference, where Project Chief of Party Dr Jordene Hale and five members of the NEI Plus staff presented on Bauchi and Sokoto States’ pressing education issues and solutions.

Since its inception in 2016, the U.S. Agency for International Development-funded NEI Plus has trained more than 12,000 teachers and facilitators. The project has been implemented in formal schools and 5,600 non-formal learning centers across 20 Local Government Areas in Bauchi and Sokoto.

 “Evidence from around the world has shown that the quality of educational outcome is more dependent on the quality of teachers and teaching. Best practices show that students placed with high-quality teachers perform three times better than those with low performing teachers,” said the Vice President, who was a Professor of Law in Nigeria.

Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the education conference. Photo by David Rabinovitz.

“I must thank very much our international funders and partners for the excellent work that they are doing. Just looking at what is going on in Bauchi and Sokoto is incredible,” he said.

NEI Plus Chief of Party, Dr Jordene Hale and other members of the team presented on pressing education topics during the two-day conference, which was organized by the Federal Ministry of Education, that brought together international partners, private foundations and governmental agencies working in the sector.

Strengthening education in Northern Nigeria

In her conference presentation titled “Nigeria: A Nation of Readers,” Dr. Hale highlighted Bauchi and Sokoto states as models for the nation. She noted that the project has inspired officials and there has been an increase in political will and courage to improve learning in the implementation focal states.

Dr. Jordene Hale presenting to Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, Hon. Chukwuemeka Nwjuiba – Minister of State for Education, Yao Ydo – Regional Director West Africa, UNESCO and a representative from DFID Nigeria. Photo by Osinbajo Press Crew.

The states are now making strides with a willingness to sustain a database that counts teachers, willingness to standardize non-formal learning exams and follow strict protocols for testing, adoption of budget tools and tracking of expenditures, among other improvements. Outside of NEI Plus, Bauchi and Sokoto states have provided thousands of textbooks and invested in teacher training.

“The tremendous strength of commitment from the governments of Bauchi and Sokoto in printing textbooks, training teachers, and supporting teacher mentors is spreading the success of NEI Plus to every district in the states,” says Dr. Hale.

Affirming government’s role in increasing funding, improving access, and accountability to keeping children in school, Vice President Osinbajo declared during his address that states are to prioritize basic education for the first nine years of every child.

Members of the NEI Plus team were featured on three panels focused on curriculum development, capacity building and development for teachers and educators, education resources and infrastructure. The team also used the opportunity to announce they will be building on their work developing mother tongue reading materials by adding Yoruba and Igbo language materials in 2020.

With editing by Ashley Williams

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