ICT-based coaching for teachers, a major breakthrough for EGR in Nigeria—SUBEB CHAIRMAN

Earlier this month, the USAID funded-Northern Education Initiative Plus project trained 60 School Support Officers (SSOs) in Sokoto State on the use of ICT mobile-based classroom observation tool to monitor and coach teachers for effective teaching in classrooms. The second phase of the training is currently ongoing in Bauchi where another set of 60 SSOs will acquire the same skills. In this interview, the Executive Chairman, State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Sokoto State, Bello Yusuf Danchadi, highlighted the significance of the training to early grade reading in the state. Excerpts:

Sokoto is the first state to have its SSOs use the ICT mobile-based classroom observation tool to mentor and coach teachers in select primary schools. As the Executive Chairman of SUBEB, what does this portend for the state’s education system?

First and foremost, on behalf of the agency, I want to say a big thank you to the United States government for introducing this ICT training in Nigeria and Sokoto State through the Northern Education Initiative Plus. It is indeed a big privilege to have our SSOs as one of the very few not just in Nigeria, but in Africa to use the ICT tool in mentoring teachers across primary schools in Sokoto state. Undoubtedly, this training will greatly improve early grade reading not just in Sokoto State but throughout Nigeria. After this training, I believe that the selected participants will offer excellent support to teachers. This will cause a positive turn-around in the state’s education system and improve the reading skills of pupils.

There are speculations that SSOs do not have cordial relationships with teachers. In your opinion, how do you think this initiative will help close the wide gap between both parties and facilitate constructive feedback during classroom observation?

SSOs, as a result of the ICT training, now have a better understanding that their primary goal is to offer support and not to criticize.

Sokoto State SUBEB Executive Chairman Bello Yusf Danchadi

I believe this ICT tool is a major breakthrough for early grade reading in Sokoto State and Nigeria. The major responsibility of SSOs is to mentor and coach teachers during classroom observations. During these observations, it is expected that SSOs will give teachers constructive feedback on how well they (the teachers) performed using several parameters some of which include teaching skills, pupil engagement strategies and overall teaching ability. All of these were done through paper documentation in the past. The process was tedious. Sometimes, this could lead to unnecessary tension for both the visiting SSO and the teacher. However, with the introduction of this ICT tool kit by USAID, all of these tension will fade away. SSOs, as a result of the ICT training, now have a better understanding that their primary goal is to offer support and not to criticize. The tools will therefore assist them in offering that support effectively. In addition, I also believe that this training will enable pupils to learn faster and better, as teachers will now have better understanding on how to engage students in the class with the mentoring videos that have been pre-loaded on the tablets. The reading capacity of both the teachers and the pupils will be greatly improved. The videos will be very helpful to teachers, as they will be able to practicalize the video guide on the tablets. Consequently, this will greatly improve the time and effort dedicated to teaching in classes and results of early grade reading assessment.

Educating the girl-child is a major challenge in some states and countries around the world. What structures is your agency putting in place to ensure more girls are educated?

The state is intensifying its effort in bringing more girls into schools. Research has shown that females learn how to read and write faster than males because of their interest in reading stories and other educational materials that focuses on the environment, lifestyle, behavioral change, fashion and the like. So, we are putting in place structures that will encourage more girls to embrace education and more women to allow their children, especially girls to attend schools. One of them is engaging women through community advocacy and mobilization efforts that will encourage women to allow their girls go to school.

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