Lagos, Nigeria – In early January, a broad spectrum of influential education stakeholders gathered in Nigeria to tackle pressing challenges in the country’s secondary education sector. The convening was held under the auspices of the Partnership to Strengthen Innovation and Practice in Secondary Education (PSIPSE) initiative. The partnership has funded over 40 innovative pilot, scale-up, and research projects focused on increasing access and quality of secondary education to adolescents in East Africa, India, and Nigeria.
Co-hosted by R4D and PSIPSE partner The Education Partnership Centre (TEP Centre), the convening brought together a wide mix of grantees, donors, and policymakers, including seven Nigerian grantees and two prospective grantees, two donor organizations, Ministry of Education officials – including the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Education, State Directors of Secondary Education, and prominent education experts from Nigerian organizations and international and bilateral institutions.
The first day of the event included a closed session for the PSIPSE collaborative to discuss project models, challenges, successes, best practices, and strategies for achieving policy influence at both the state and national levels.
Over 70 people attended the second day of the event, which brought together a wider group of influential stakeholders from Nigeria’s secondary education sector and the non-governmental space. Sessions addressed cross-sectoral collaboration in secondary education, unique challenges faced by girls in Nigeria, and break-out sessions on ICT, teacher development, and curriculum development.
In her keynote speech, Kemi Williams from the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) observed, “Poverty is a real and present challenge for many Nigerians – 63% of whom live below, or just above the poverty line of $1.25 a day.”
“While government secondary schools are fee-free, the cost of uniforms, books, examinations and other materials mean secondary school can be prohibitively expensive”, she added.
As an example of ways to address these challenges, Williams described DFID Nigeria’s goal to support 800,000 children with better education – 440,000 of whom will be girls – by the end of 2015.
"We see a lot of challenges ahead, but implementation and piloting is more than the first step... [Providing education] is hard work and we need to give ourselves credit," said R4D board member Fola Laoye.
Ultimately, the convening fostered new relationships and collaborations to improve secondary education in Nigeria, allowing R4D to end its 18-month role as learning partner on the PSIPSE initiative on a high note.