By Boco Edet Abdul, Abuja
As a think tank of Nigeria’s education system, the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council is a key partner of the Northern Education Initiative Plus. Under the leadership of Professor Ismail Junaidu, the council has led the process of developing an Early Grade Reading curriculum for schools in Bauchi and Sokoto states. The council continues to partner with the project on teacher professional development, reading policy, standards and benchmark and is part of a Reading Technical Working Group working to see more than two million children improve their reading skills.
In this brief interview Professor Junaidu captures the importance of the project to the council.
THE INITIATIVE HAS BEEN WORKING VERY CLOSELY WITH THE NIGERIAN EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL SINCE INCEPTION. WHAT IS YOUR VIEW OF WHAT HAS BEEN ACCOMPLISHED SO FAR ESPECIALLY WITH OUR EARLY GRADE READING PROGRAM IN SCHOOLS?
Junaidu: The Initiative is doing very well. We have been working since the start of the project not without some challenges but that is normal with every startup. Things are going very smoothly and I must say that it is a welcome project. This is why we have given the project all the support because we have realized its importance. I will say the project is doing very well and the achievements made so far are very commendable. However, this is an intervention and we are hoping that by the time the project exits we should be able to scale up curriculum for the Early Grade Reading program nationally.
WHAT SPECIFICALLY ARE SOME OF THE BEST PRACTICES OF THE INITIATIVE THAT THE NIGERIAN EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL COULD SCALE UP AT A NATIONAL LEVEL?
Junaidu: It is almost in all ramifications of the project. Take for example the Early Grade Reading curriculum itself- the content is very rich. The council has taken a lead on this and the Initiative has played a very strong advisory role and we keep improving by the day. Through the process of developing these materials, we have identified gaps and we are working on them. We continue to work together to make the dream of every Nigerian school child to read come true. The project is also very open to guidance and that is how a relationship should work.
READING AS A SUBJECT IS GAINING GLOBAL ATTENTION. HOW IS THE NIGERIAN EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL POSITIONING ITSELF STRATEGICALLY SO THAT NIGERIA CAN BE PART OF THAT MOVEMENT?
Junaidu: This project should have come three years ago but we needed to get certain things right first to prepare for this intervention. However now that it is here we are leveraging on it seriously. This project is a foundation for Nigeria to pay attention to Early Grade Reading like other countries and we are learning as we go along.
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