Posted in Basic Education, governance, Politics

Towards Developing a Training Package for House Committee members on Basic Education

by

Noel Ihebuzor

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 Premises

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
  • Procurement
  • 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

Policy framework for basic education – National   Policy   on   Education (NPE) 2013, normative framework for basic education provision

Nigeria and Universal Basic Education Programme (UBEP) – some history and Context and How UBEP works

Functions of House Committee on Education with regards to Universal Basic Education

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

Step 3

Constitute each of these tripods into a learning session and develop learning outcomes for each session

SESSION 1

Learning Outcomes

At the end of this session, participants should be able to:

SESSION 2

LEARNING OUTCOMES

At the end of the session, House Committee Members should be able to:

Session 3

SESSION 3

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:

Step 4

Develop the learning package in line with steps 1-3 above

Step 5

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 

Lessons learnt

Some lessons were learnt in developing the training materials. These include the following:

importance of team work

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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

Writing

      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

Posted in Basic Education, governance, Uncategorized

The role of LGAs in delivering Quality in Basic education – Talk by Noel Ihebuzor at the training organized for LGAE officials as part of UNICEF’s support to Systems strengthening in Basic Education

Three terms are vital for an effective coverage of the topic – these are – Local Government Authorities, Quality and Basic education. Let us look at each in turn, starting from Quality

Quality

  • Quality involves standards
  • It means fit for purpose
  • It means meeting some basic criteria and norms,
  • It means good and imbued with attributes that bring are associated functionality
  • It means desirable and something of value

Quality does not simply happen, it does not fall from the sky  – it is the result of human action.

  • Quality requires planning, it requires work, it requires sweat, but that sweat produces sweet results
  • Quality comes around when good and relevant processes, policies, strategies are combined with the tactics and activities

Basic Education – education in the first nine years of formal schooling,

  • Foundation for all further education
  • Covers primary, pre-primary, ECD, NFE, Alternative education such as IQE
  • It is the base on which all other education efforts are built on.
  • It is the foundation of all other education
  • Important are for national development.
  • It is also important for personal development – benefits include learning new things – (literacy and numeracy + emotional and social literacies), preparing the mind to learn new things and socializing.
  • Completion of basic offers a whole array social benefits, these benefits including social, health, Nutrition, workforce development.

LGAE- this the level of administration closest the people. We have 774 of thee in Nigeria

In Nigeria, Basic education is the responsibility of the state and local government levels of administration.

Responsibility for the day to day management of Basic education rests however with Local governments.

Such responsibility includes the responsibility for quality in basic education Planning, Research, Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation – PRIME

Good operational plans are realistic, participatory in their design, inclusive in their design, equity and disparity reduction in their intentions, processes and strategies. Their indicative budgets are realistic, competitive and build on established industry bencmarksThey are evidence based, context sensitive and implementable. They have reliable baselines and indicators for measuring progress

Quality in Basic Education results from the interaction four factors. They also have reliable and relevant midlines and end lines.

Quality in BASIC EDCATION

In any educational system quality results from te interaction of four variables – these are learner, instructional, socio-cultural and administrative factors – LISA. These factors interact and influence one another

Each of these factors is turn made up of several factors –

Learner factors are made up of the age, sex, socio-economic status, family background, achievement orientation, interest, intelligence, aptitude, attitude, character etc.

Some of these are beyond the capacity of LGAE authorities to determine. Some they can influence, some they can control. Which ones from the listing above are within the control and influence of the LGAE?

Instructional factors include teacher qualification, teacher certification, teacher conditions of employment, sex of teacher, age, experience, degree of motivation of teachers, curriculum, syllabus, books, school materials, school toilets, classroom size, desks, chairs, writing materials, lesson notes, length of lesson, type of shift in school – single or double shift? Can you list some more? 

Which of these are within the control and influence of the LGAE?

Socio-cultural factors include cultural and social norm, gender norms, attitude to life. Attitude to education, cultural orientation, cultural beliefs etc. Are any if these under the direct influence of the LGEA.

Administrative factors include school buildings, school resources, blackboards, storage facilities, toilet facilities, school policies, regulations, procurement policies, Procurement practices, maintenance policies, employment and HR policies,  teachers’ salaries, training policies, financing, school budgets, fund allocation,  school census, school mapping, school plant size management, school design, classroom  design, ventilation, lighting, school Inspection and support services, etc.

For an educational system to effective, efficient and successful, all the four factors of LISA must be in harmony. They must all agree. They must also support one another.

Let me give an example – if you provide enough budgets and use them transparently and in keeping with procurement policies, you will build more classroom; if you build more classrooms, your pupil classroom ratio will improve, if this improves, learners will be more comfortable, if learners are more comfortable, then more learning will likely take place

Another example, if teachers’ salaries are paid regularly, teachers will be more motivated, if teachers are more motivated, they will teach more effectively, if they teach more effectively, many more learners will learn.

Try your hands now with working out such relationships between instructional factors and learner factors. Do same for learner factors and admin factors. Ditto for socio-cultural factors and admin factors.

You will soon begin to see the links between these different elements. You will soon begin to appreciate that what you as LGAE can influence the quality of Basic Education in your LGA.

Remind yourself this – what is it that we want as accountable, professional and effective LGEA workers are the following

  • More children are going through our basic education system and passing well
  • Less and less repetition and wastage is noted in our schools
  • More and more children move from one year to another and pass each grade
  • More teachers are employed in our basic education system and teaching well and inculcating positive values
  • More teachers in our LGA are being supported through regular and supportive inspection, monitoring and mentoring visits
  • More and more teachers in our LGAE are supported through value adding In-Service Teacher training and continuous Professional Development
  • More relevant teaching learning materials are availed to all learners in our school schools and the pupils are using these to learn, survive and thrive in and out and of school
  • More resources are being spent in schools and our spending and funds use are rational, transparent, procedures compliant and achieve high returns on our investment
  • More school building and school facilities are availed
  • More gender equity is achieved in our schools because of good planning
  • More girls are in school, completing school and passing well because our teachers have been taught to be gender friendly and responsive in their pedagogic practices
  • More and more schools are gender friendly with toilet facilities and water and sanitation access
  • Schools are more efficient because school planning is based on correct evidence and on very up to date statistics

Resources are in schools and are optimally being used and the LGA is achieving value for money through realistic spending and costing

Some of the above are the benefits of good planning and are some of the indicators of quality in Basic education. Your state need quality in Basic Education. And you can make it happen. Be the change. Remember the power of one!

Good luck.

Noel Ihebuzor, LC, FoL