Turning Evidence to Policy and Action in Nigeria

Opeyemi Oluleye
 

As part of its mandate to strengthen partnerships in the education sector, The Education Partnership (TEP) Centre recently held the 3rd edition of the Nigerian Education Innovation Summit (NEDIS) at Sheraton Hotel, Abuja.

The Summit themed: “From Evidence to Policy and Action: What Works?” brought together over 150 stakeholders from government, research and academia, development organisations and programmes, donor and other funding organisations, civil society organisations and a broad range of education innovators, for two days of discourse focused on establishing pathways for strengthening the utilisation of evidence in policymaking, practice and citizen action. 

In his opening speech, the Honourable Minister of Education, represented by the Executive Director of Research and Innovation, National University Commission (NUC), Mallam Audu Muhammed, stated that Nigeria is undergoing monumental changes geared towards unleashing creativity of her citizens. He stated, “to address the challenges of nation-building in the 21st century, the Federal Government has set up ten pillars of core and measurable goals addressing out of school children, teacher education, capacity development, curriculum review, among others.”

Also in attendance was the Special Adviser on Education to the Governor of Lagos State, Obafela Bank-Olemoh, who spoke during the first plenary session. According to him, the Lagos State Government is working to effectively revamp the state’s education sector especially leveraging technology innovations and infrastructure. He added that, although, the state may not solve the myriad challenges in the education, the state government is deliberate, strategic, and carrying out school audits to know necessary steps to take. The keynote address was delivered by Dr. Kristen Molyneaux of MacArthur Foundation Chicago.

Other speakers at the summit were Dr. Kole Shettima (MacArthur Foundation), Solomon Adebayo (World Bank) Dr. Tunji Adegbesan (Gidi Mobile), Mr. Chude Jideonwo (RED Media), Mr. Innocent Chukwuma (Ford Foundation), among others.

Some of the conclusions reached by the delegates included the need for education sector stakeholders to move from the provision of information or data to the generation of rigorous evidence to influence policy. Implementers were tasked to strengthen capacity to carry out internal monitoring, and use more rigorous methods to evaluate their projects and programmes. Regarding communications and advocacy, it was agreed that implementers of education innovations need to adopt more strategic approaches to how evidence is communicated, beginning with the end in mind, and focusing on brevity and simplicity in messaging. Also, good communications need not be expensive; however, expertise is required to build the capacity of education innovators and programme implementers.

The Managing Director of TEP Centre, Dr. Modupe Adefeso-Olateju, spoke on the innovation coalition that was set up last year (NEDIS 2016). According to her, the National Innovation Coalition on Education (NICE) exists as a platform for learning, sharing knowledge and skills, and collaborative policy engagement.  “In the next year, emphasis will be placed on strengthening this coalition and continuing to provide opportunities for members to learn, share and collaborate, especially with regard to policy engagement.”

In summary, NEDIS 2017 featured enlightening plenary discussions, engaging breakout discussion sessions, participatory workshops and a thought-provoking drama skit produced by prolific director and producer, Zack Amata.  It also featured an exhibition of innovative products and services from organisations such as Bridge International, Mavis Computel, development Research and Projects Centre, among others. This enabled excellent networking among delegates.

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