Interest in increasing the effectiveness of actors and duty bearers in the public domain has continued to grow since its beginnings following the launch of the movement in new public management (Hood, 1991; Gruening, 2001). The advantages claimed for a New Public management (NPM) approach in governance include the following – greater efficiency, greater focus on performance and results as well as their objective measurement, improved use of resources, these including human, financial and material resources. Hand in hand with these developments in public sector management has been a call for greater value for money in the use of resources appropriated by governments in the provision of basic social services such as Basic Education, primary health care as well as water and environmental sanitation. Members of parliament have important roles not only in ensuring that budgets are approved and appropriated for the provision of such basic social services but also in seeing that the approved budgets are utilized in manners consistent with the best practices in public finance management (PFM). Such roles ensure that cost savings, cost efficiencies and service maximization are achieved in the use of public resources and assets.
It is such development thinking that informs the support that development partners working through relevant ministries continue to provide to the training and sensitization of law makers in Nigeria. UNICEF, for instance, has supported the design and development of a training manual for the training and sensitization of law makers from the state houses of assembly who are members of house committee on education. The purpose is to aid in their understanding of the processes primarily around the UBE act as well as other education documents/plans as a necessary step strengthening their capacity to provide required legislation and oversight for the education sector.
The training/sensitization programme has two objectives:
- to facilitate an enhanced understanding of the education sector and its recurring challenges.
- to acquaint law makers on the role they should play to protect education especially at the basic level through legislation and oversight.
Basic Education is the foundation of all education. If the foundation is weak, then the entire edifice risks instability and possible eventual collapse. It is therefore important that this substructure of education is solidly built. Secondly, basic education caters for the education for all at the base. It is thus the level of education with the greatest egalitarian relevance and appeal. It is the level of education that any one with an interest in inclusive education will first to need to tackle and get right. A society with an interest in stimulating economic growth through investment in education will also need to invest in basic education as it has been shown to have multiplier effects of all other aspects of education and uptake of basic social services. All the thinking above inform global interest in universal basic education as one lever for vital socio-economic transformation.
The UBE programme in Nigeria has its parentage in a number of human rights documents and development program thinking. Most human rights declarations make the important distinction between those who have rights holders and those whose custodial, constitutional and social functions are to ensure that those rights are met. Such persons are known as duty bearers. There is now evidence that the capacity and ability of duty bearers to effectively discharge their obligations to duty holders is a function of several factors –
- Understanding and appreciation of those rights
- Importance and significance of those rights
- Awareness of and Empathy with the plight of rights holder
- Sense of Solidarity with rights holder
- Level of Education and information of the basis of those rights
- Knowledge of what to do and who to partner with to further those rights etc
In furthering the actualization of the rights of rights holders, duty bearers carry out a number of linked functions which include
- Service provision
- Service supervision and monitoring,
- Advocacy and awareness creation,
- Alliance building and networking
- Standards setting
- Compliance monitoring
- Law making
- Mentoring, etc
Though all these functions are important, perhaps the most important is that of supervision. Supervision ensures compliance with agreed standards, proper resource utilisation, service provider conduct and presence, effective service delivery and waster minimisation. This is true whether we are dealing with duty bearer functions in the areas of water and sanitation, housing, leisure, recreation, nutrition or education. Indeed, in basic education, supervision by duty bearers leads to greater value for money and to ensuring that public resources set aside for or dedicated to basic education are optimally utilized.
Of all duty bearers, members of the house of representatives, especially those in committees charged with oversight functions for Basic education, have a critical role to play in the sustenance of BASIC EDUCATION. They can carry out these roles in several ways, some of which have been mention in passing earlier in our general consideration of the roles of duty bearers in the provision of universal basic education. With specific regard to this subsector of basic social services, members of the House committee can get involved in the following ways
Advocating with the Executive for improved budgets for basic education
Insisting on improved public finance management as it concerns basic education at all levels of the value chain
Moving bills for basic education management, administration and or improvement, be these in the areas of minimum standards, Teacher hiring and firing, Teacher Incentives, Teacher Qualifications, Conditions for PRESET and INSET
Monitoring resource utilization in basic education
Lobbying, influencing and mobilizing other policy makers, the executive, the private sector and other social influencers for necessary policy changes that would advance all aspects of basic education be it Access, Retention, Quality and Completion.
To carry out these many functions, such House committee members need to equipped through exposure to a learning package which blends elements of sensitisation and guided learning experiences to acquire certain skills, affects and capacities.
The rest of this paper describes the steps taken in the design and development of this special programme for house committee members of basic education. It describes the processes adopted as well as the considerations that informed them.The development described below was carried out by a group of educators, teacher trainers, educational planners and administrators working together as a team. The emphasis here is on team work.
Step 1 – identify the essential core and content of the learning package.
To do this, the team had to answer the question – for a house member to lobby effectively for universal Basic education, to monitor Basic education provision, to provide oversight for basic education provision, to make laws for basic education, to move bills for basic education, to become an advocate for basic education, what does he or she need to know? Questions like this represent some form of indirect needs assessment. As is now well accepted, needs assessment is a necessary first step in the design of relevant learning experiences and packages. Carried out in the form of a brain storming exercise by the design team, this exercise yielded the following three core knowledge needs/areas of vital learning
These three core learning areas were examined and debated until consensus was achieved that they constituted the necessary, sufficient-Adequate and relevant tripod on which the learning package for House committee members could be built. It is important for us to remind ourselves here that necessity, sufficiency-adequacy and relevance are the prime determinants of correct choices in curriculum design.
Step 2 Conduct a task analysis and work breakdown of each of the elements of the legs of the tripod
The team agreed that the next step would demand that each leg of the tripod be now broken into its constituent parts. For this exercise, the writing team broke into three groups, with a group working on one of the tripods. At the end of the exercise, a plenary was conducted and the following sketch outlines were agreed upon for each of the three arms of the tripod.
Policy framework for basic education – National Policy on Education (NPE) 2013, normative framework for basic education provision
- The National Policy on Education (NPE) – policy thrust and specification and prescriptions by level
- Normative frameworks influencing and guiding educational provosions- The Universal Declaration of Human rights, The UN Convention Rights of the Child, The African Union Charter on African Child, The UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), and the Ssustainable Development Goals (SDG)
- Data speaks – the importance of data in education planning and what current data says for each state
- Key issues in Basic Education – Access, Participation, Retention, Completion, Quality and their indicators, Net versus Gross enrolment
- Contending issues in basic education – Equity, Inclusion, Inclusion, Gender, Costs of Basic Education, Benefit of Basic Education, Externalities of Basic education, Out of School Children;
- Things that make for quality education – learner, instructional, administrative, school plant, and environmental factors
- Quality indicators in basic education delivery
- Quality versus non – quality indicators in Basic Education
Nigeria and Universal Basic Education Programme (UBEP) – some history and Context and How UBEP works
- National and global antecedents of UPE and UBE
- The Regions and Education Ordinances
- UBE Legislative framework.
- Education indicators
- Education plans and levels – strategic plans versus operational plans
- Effective schools – their attributes and things to look out when monitoring basic education
- How to make schools effective
- Obstacles in the implementation of Basic Education and Strategies to overcome them.
- Example of successful implementation of basic education act from a comparable country and what this means for Nigeria
Functions of House Committee on Education with regards to Universal Basic Education
- Committee members and their roles and responsibilities to the basic education sub-sector
- Skills required to discharge these roles and to function effectively
- Revisit to core indicators that would guide the discharge of the roles and responsibilities of house committee members
Constitute each of these tripods into a learning session and develop learning outcomes for each session
At the end of this session, participants should be able to:
Members of the Education Committee have among their numerous functions the responsibility of oversight of education matters. This responsibility involves ensuring a variety of outcomes in education through monitoring, supervision, advocating, lobbying for bills and laws by consultations, communication, negotiation, consensus and relationship building.
At the end of the session, House Committee Members should be able to:
Develop the learning package in line with steps 1-3 above
Subject the output of step to peer review, critique and validation.
Validation of this training document was done through a live presentation with lawmakers from four states. Reception was positive and indeed enthusiastic. The writing team however also learnt a few lessons from active engagement and participation in the process for strategic planning and Programme implementation
Some lessons were learnt in developing the training materials. These include the following:
importance of team work
importance of context sensitive learning materials development
importance of peer review
the sobering truth that effective curriculum building as an interactive process
the fact that effective curriculum development is an iterative process
importance of stating clear and realistic learning outcomes
Hood C. 1991. A public management for all seasons?, Public Administration. Vol. 69. No. 1
Gruening, G (2001) Origin and theoretical basis of New Public Management, International Public Management Journal 4, 1–25