Reading fluently off the page of her English textbook, Success Ehigie, an FSP Primary School pupil in Benin City smiled as the words rolled off her tongue showing how much dedication and hard work had been put into improving her reading skills and cultivating a healthy reading habit.
It could be said that as she picked up the book, she was in a world of her own going over each word, pausing over the difficult words and spotting a triumphant smile on her face as soon as she pronounced the words correctly.
In the corner, her mother smiled encouragingly, egging her daughter on to complete the segment of the passage assigned to her. This is the story in many Edo state-owned primary schools, following the implementation of EdoBEST, a basic education reform programme that has transformed the system of education.
Speaking on the importance of cultivating literacy skills, Ozavize Salami, the Executive Chairman of Edo State Universal Basic Education Board (Edo SUBEB) expressed the importance of raising a generation of readers who are eager to explore new possibilities through reading.
“At the heart of all we do are our children. They are the reason behind all the decisions that we make that ultimately, their learning outcomes are improved and they are safe”, Salami said.
Reading as a tool for development
For an EdTech solution like EdoBEST, utilizing the art of reading as a motivator in learning and comprehension is at the forefront in reforming teaching practices, learning content, and teacher commitment in the education system. Knowledge is power and as such, the programme is committed to increasing the reach of life-changing education to various communities including hard-to-reach (riverine) areas in the state.
EdoBEST is prioritizing literacy among students in state-owned primary and junior secondary schools through strategic teaching methodology and classroom management. It is important that every child in an EdoBEST school is equipped with standard resources that help nurture reading habits thereby improving learning outcomes.
Equipping teachers with work tools like the teacher tablet and smartphone was a deliberate move by EdoBEST to infuse technology into the learning structure and curriculum of both the teachers and children. Studies show that effective use of digital learning tools in classrooms can increase student engagement, help teachers improve their lesson plans, and facilitate personalized learning. It is, therefore, no surprise that students in EdoBEST schools have been shown to perform better in learning, scoring up to five percentage points more than their counterparts in other schools in the state.
These teacher tablets have been pre-installed with literary resources tailored to the learning needs of each grade. Unlike libraries which contain a limited stock of outdated learning resources, the EdoBEST teacher tablet contains an array of relevant literature on several subjects that will help improve literacy skills while imparting knowledge. Regularly updated each week, the EdoBEST curriculum exposes pupils to new subjects and vocabulary, as well stimulates thinking and imagination through cheers, songs, and literature that help improve cognitive development on the part of the children.
Teaching at the Right Level (TARL)
Like Success, EdoBEST students are positioned for literary advancement as they are provided with the necessary tools to develop an advanced, admirable skill set guaranteed to enable them to compete with their counterparts in other schools and other states. This, the programme has done, through the Teaching at the Right Level (TARL) initiative launched in 2020.
TARL is an initiative that saw EdoBEST children placed into a literacy and numeracy program at their learning level. Children were assessed, regrouped according to their literacy and numeracy abilities, and taught with level-appropriate materials.
This gave pupils who hitherto could not read and write, the opportunity to learn at a better pace and align with their counterparts such that the literacy and numeracy levels of all students in a class were level.
For Awesome Oghosa, a pupil of FSP Benin City, reading has helped him practice his sums better thereby improving his numeracy skills. Looking forward to a career in sciences, he works actively using the EdoBEST@Homedigital classroom features to keep learning and improving his skills.
EdoBEST@Home is targeted at helping children read more even during the holidays as improving reading skills among children is a priority to EdoBEST. Statistics show that reading six additional minutes a day helps a child significantly improve their reading pace and vocabulary. Children who read at least 20 minutes a day are more likely to be exposed to almost two million words a year. This will help them improve their communication skills.
Active reading has also been shown to help reduce mental decline in old age by up to 32 percent. Like a muscle, the brain requires active exercise to help with cognitive development. This includes engaging in mind-stimulating exercises, learning new words and retaining new information regularly.
World Book Day
As the world celebrates World Book Day, a day set aside to promote the enjoyment of reading books, EdoBEST is working hard to improve learning outcomes. As providers of basic education services, literacy is a key priority. This is why EdoBEST is encouraging pupils to explore the world through books by providing learning resources that improve cognitive development and literacy skills among EdoBEST pupils.
Literacy and numeracy skills are essential, especially in the early formative years. As providers of basic education services, EdoBEST is invested in the improvement of these skills through strategic learning methods and teaching practices. EdoBEST has distributed an average of 1.3 million books to schools in the 18 LGAs in Edo state. These books, in addition to the literary resources contained in the teacher tablet, have helped motivate children in EdoBEST schools to sustain an interest in reading while improving their literacy and numeracy skills.
Leveraging these methods and practices, students in EdoBEST schools are proven to perform better than their counterparts in literacy and numeracy. As the world celebrates World Book Day, EdoBEST reiterates its commitment to improving basic education services to ensure that every child is a reader.
This article appeared originally on BusinessDay, April 25, 2022.