… ‘how we transparently utilized World Bank fund’
The Edo State Commissioner for Education, Dr. Joan Oviawe, has said the foresight and political will of the State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, is responsible for the landmark transformation and advancement recorded in the education sector over the past seven years.
Speaking to journalists in Benin City, the Commissioner said the education sector is one area where Governor Obaseki has outperformed his peers, adding that the development was made possible by the reforms introduced by the governor in 2017.
According to her, “The governor had the vision and then had the political will. From the very beginning, he said to me, look, always tell the truth, always tell the people the truth, what is working, what is not working, and I have stood by that ethos.
“He is somebody that has compassion for the people, for the downtrodden; he’s somebody that has the right kind of values as the leader.”
She said the Edo Basic Education Sector Transformation (EdoBEST), launched on April 19, 2018, has continued to record huge success, improving learning outcomes across schools in the State.
The Commissioner said, “So, when in 2021 the governor decided that we had done considerable work at the basic level and these children that are going through a reformed basic education system are coming up to junior and senior secondary and if those levels of education are still in decay, then all the efforts done on basic would have gone to waste.
“June 2021, EdoBEST 2.0 was launched. The EdoBEST 2.0 is not just an acronym; it is an aspiration that Edo wants to be the best at every level of education, whether basic secondary, technical, vocational or tertiary.”
She also disclosed that teachers’ skills and welfare were also prioritised, with an upward review of salaries to make them among the top earners in the country, with a backlog of salaries, promotions and allowances taken care of by the governor.
According to her, “We’ve had remarkable successes, particularly at the secondary and TVET levels. We've been able to strengthen our education delivery system.”
On funding of the EdoBEST programme, the Commissioner disclosed that EdoBEST was fully funded by the state government until 2022 when the World Bank heard of the programme’s success and offered some level of funding through its P4R Programme.
She noted that the funding process was transparent as the funding was fully accounted for, with PwC employed by the World Bank to verify the process, adding, “That’s why I’m very comfortable and very confident in our records so far. Even though detractors may misrepresent it as being arrogant, it's not. We know where we were, we know what we met on the ground and we know how far we've come.”
“I believe Edo is the first State that the World Bank was giving that facility. Typically, the World Bank does not fund States directly, they go through the federal government, but they were so confident in the abilities of Governor Obaseki, they were so impressed.”