By Bodunde Tenabe
One Federal Agency of Education that has been silently taking giant strides in the past few months is the National Institute for Educational Planning and Administration (NIEPA) domiciled in the quiet and peaceful city of Ondo. The spikes in the positive impacts of this parastatal of the Federal Ministry of Education came with the tenure of its Acting Director General and Chief Executive Officer, Dr. David Adebiyi Shofoyeke. It is more than a mere coincidence that the Institute in the past few months under Shofoyeke’s leadership has demonstrated what is possible given the right political will. Anecdotic testimonials by staff and clients indicate that there have been visible improvements in the administration of the Institute as evident in the conducive working environment, provision of a functional Institute website, expanded management meetings, general staff meetings, the revival of lost relationships with International Development Partners, infrastructural projects, staff welfare and so many others too numerous to mention.
The growth and improvement in the delivery of capacity-building programmes for education sector planners and managers cannot be rivaled. In a short space of time, the Shofoyeke administration convoked a conference of Directors of Planning, Research, and Statistics and also, another conference for Quality Assurance Directors. These conferences and other sundry activities are in furtherance of NIEPA’s working philosophy which aims to transmit the most essential knowledge and practical know-how required to build capacity for educational planning, management, monitoring and evaluation in Nigeria. This philosophy is based on the need to produce seasoned, articulate, well-grounded, technically skilled education planners, managers and school administrators who are to work towards the production of quality, relevance and efficiency in all the tiers of the education system. The implication of this is that those entrusted with educating our children and wards are themselves now empowered.
The high point here is that Dr. Shofoyeke has revived the key foundational operational mandate of the Institute which UNESCO in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Education sought to achieve in sub-Saharan Africa when it established NIEPA to address the peculiarities and challenges of Nigeria in the areas of educational planning and administration. It is not unusual for educational planning and administration Institutes to collaborate with other agencies and organizations while at the same time providing academic and professional guidance to appropriate agencies.
In this regard, UNICEF in collaboration with NIEPA is currently reviewing the State Education Strategic Plan (SESP), State Education Strategic and Operation Plan (SESOP) and Local Education Strategic and Operational Plan (LESOP) of 8 states in Nigeria. The states are Bauchi, Gombe, Sokoto, Zamfara, Borno, Yobe, Katsina and Cross River. Most of the states in Nigeria have new Governors armed with new programmes, plans, policies and agendas they want to translate into action in the education sector therefore, an education plan is very important to guide them in the implementation of their various agendas. Furthermore, other International Development Partners are in the process of engaging the Institute to help different states in Nigeria to develop fresh education sector plans where they do not exist and also, review these plans where they already exist but do not meet up with the standard contemporary requirements.
NIEPA Ondo also recently achieved an independent verifier status for Better Education Service Delivery for All (BESDA). State Education Sector Plans (SESP) of the thirty-six states in Nigeria including FCT Abuja were assessed, verified, and moderated by NIEPA’s academic staff to assist FME-BESDA in increasing equitable access for out-of-school children and improve literacy in focus states, and strengthen accountability for results in basic education in Nigeria. This is the first of its kind since NIEPA was established in 1992.
Interestingly, several media reports have validated the assessments made by these organizations and given that media organizations are thorough in arriving at their reports then one can safely accept that great things have happened at the Institute. Whatever Dr. David Adebiyi Shofoyeke did to turn NIEPA around should be studied and properly articulated to make related agencies and organizations see what they can adapt for implementation in their sphere.
Tenabe is New Media Officer at NIEPA Ondo.
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