SOKOTO, Nigeria- Not daunted by the challenge of meagre budget releases for school management, Local Government Education Authorities (LGEAs) in Sokoto state are sponsoring teacher professional development on Early Grade Reading (EGR).
Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Northern Education Initiative Plus project in 2016 introduced an EGR program based on global best practices called Mu Karanta! Let’s Read! in Bauchi and Sokoto states.
In its first two years, the project improved the reading skills of more than 500,000 pupils in Primary 1-3 by teaching them to read in Hausa which is the language of the environment and helping them transition to English. This was achieved by equipping more than 6,000 teachers with skills to teach the curriculum and distributing over 3 million teaching and learning textbooks.
The plan is to sustain the program by mobilizing the Sokoto state government to fund teacher training, school monitoring and books distribution through its yearly budget allocation to the education sector and other sources of funding from the Sokoto State Universal Basic Education Board.
In the interim, three Local Government Education Authorities of Gada, Yabo and Sokoto South in Sokoto state have devised innovative ways of training teachers on the Reading program at limited cost.
Education Secretaries of these local governments realized this was the only way to deal with challenges of continuous transfer of trained teachers, expansion to new schools and maintaining the quality of the program.
“This Reading program has impacted our teachers and pupils positively and we knew we had to drive sustainability locally to bridge gaps,” said Muhammed Dan Umar, Education Secretary of Sokoto South Local Government Education Authority.
The local governments used the pool of Teacher Trainers initially trained by the project to train teachers in clusters. Teachers are provided with less than $3 for feeding and transportation.
So far, 150 teachers have been trained by the Local Government Education Authorities using funds for operational costs.
“The teachers are very appreciative of the training because for them it is an opportunity to learn what their colleagues know and apply it in their classrooms. The trainings have motivated them,” said Ibrahim Mohammed, Education Secretary of Yabo Local Government Education Authority.
In Sokoto state, absenteeism among teachers and students is high. The Local Government Education Authorities are also strengthening school monitoring and supervision to ensure proper implementation of the Reading program.
“We are making School Support Officers who are in charge of school monitoring and supervision work proactively. Though funding is a challenge, they have been clustered to visit schools around them that requires little or no transportation,” said Nasiru Abdullahi, Education Secretary of Gada Local Government Education Authority.
The project is also gaining the attention of other donor organizations such as the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). UNICEF plans to implement the Mu Karanta! Let’s Read! program in 120 schools in Bauchi and 210 in Sokoto.
The Northern Education Initiative Plus program builds ownership among federal, state and Local Government Education Authorities and works closely with them to ensure commitment to quality early grade reading instruction and increased access to education.
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