The Country Director, Coalition for Good Governance and Economic Justice in Africa, John Mayaki, has called on the executive governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, to account for the $75 million World Bank loan obtained to develop Edo Schools. In an interview with Punch newspaper and monitored by Parallel Facts, the former commissioner for youths, sports, and special duties lambasted the governor for abandoning government schools in rural areas and allowing them to fall into a state of disrepair.
Mayaki accused Obaseki of failing to account for the previous loans, the internally generated revenue, and the federal allocations he received. He called on the World Bank to critically assess the Obaseki administration’s utilization of the loan, especially in Education. He opined, “We are inviting them (the World Bank) for an on-the-spot assessment of Edo schools, especially in the rural areas, because despite the announcement of significant funding for the revamping of education in Edo State, there has been little to no visible impact or improvement in the state’s educational system.
It is our aim that it will provide a first-hand experience of the deplorable conditions of schools, particularly in rural areas. The assessment will also enable them to witness the reality on the ground and gain a deeper understanding of the urgent need for intervention and support For Edo schools.
Overall, the invitation for an on-the-spot assessment is a call for transparency, accountability, and a shared commitment to improving education for children in Edo State, particularly those in underserved, rural areas who are currently bearing the brunt of the existing challenges.”
Mayaki berated the PDP-led administration in the state for focusing on deploying technology in schools without good classrooms, desks, and other instructional materials. EdoBESST has received praise from the World Bank and other global institutions, but it is imperative to critically assess its impact, especially regarding infrastructure and resource allocation.
Adequate classrooms, chairs, and tables are indispensable for effective education delivery, and unfortunately, these necessities are lacking in many Edo schools.
Moreover, it is vital to address the significant disparity between urban and rural areas when implementing educational reforms. Focusing solely on urban centres while neglecting rural areas undermines the goal of providing equal opportunities for all students. To accurately evaluate the success of EdoBEST, it is essential to consider its impact across the entire state rather than basing judgments solely on the achievements of a single school in Benin City. He said.
When asked if the $75 million loan has been well utilized to revamp education in the state, Mr Mayaki explicitly stated that very few results have been achieved.
In terms of physical and tangible structures, I can tell you that there is virtually nothing to justify the World Bank’s $75 million loan facility granted to the Edo State government, and this claim is verifiable. However, it seems that our expectations regarding the deliverables from the total sum of N40 billion are at odds with what the state government intended to achieve.
Governor Obaseki’s EdoBESST program and the World Bank loan primarily focus on teachers using scripted lessons on tablets, with the tablets tracking their progress. Learning and development officers provide specific recommendations to teachers, while quality assurance officers supervise and cross-check the overall program quality. This is what the N40bn EdoBESST initiative aims to accomplish, but it lacks solid interventions that would significantly impact education outcomes, such as infrastructure and facilities like classrooms, chairs, tables, toilets, libraries, laboratories, and sports facilities found in standard or private schools. he said.
The former commissioner also cautioned against using the revamping of the Benin Technical College as a yardstick to measure successes recorded by the Obaseki administration in Uplifting Edo schools.
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While the Benin Technical College has been rebuilt with support from the Canadian government and other donors during the governor’s seven years in office, other technical schools seem to have been neglected. How does that align with EdoBESST? When examining the performance of Edo State students in examinations, we see impressive results from Deeper Life students and those from Anambra State, without the support of the World Bank or the extravagant codename ‘EdoBESST.’
These students are performing better, making the expenditure of such a substantial sum of N40 billion on scripted lessons on tablets without a conducive learning environment unjustifiable. It is puzzling to consider EdoBESST when the children of government officials attend private schools.
The first thing that attracts students to attend school is the built environment, infrastructure, and facilities, even before discussing teaching methods. The idea of tracking class attendance with EdoBESST is laughable when the school environment itself is not conducive to learning. Therefore, if the N40 billion World Bank loan is solely for providing tablets to students in urban areas, it signifies a misplaced priority and a waste of resources. he said.