By Olubusuyi Adenipekun
The on-going efforts of Lagos State government towards the provision of qualitative and functional education at all levels received a big boost on Wednesday last week when a large number of stakeholders gathered at the exquisite Banquet Hall of Eko Hotel and Suites for  the purpose of moving the education sector forward.

Apart from conferring corporate social responsibility awards on individuals and corporate organisations that are partnering the state government on its “Support Our Schools” initiative, the occasion was also meant to drum support for uplifting the standard of public schools in the state.

Princess Sarah Sosan, Lagos State Dep Gov & Commissioner for Education
Princess Sarah Sosan, Lagos State Dep Gov & Commissioner for Education

Princess Sarah Adebisi Sosan, the state deputy governor who is also the Commissioner of Education, said that the adoption of the public-private partnership in the state’s education sector is to add value to Governor Raji Fashola-led administration’s huge expenditure on public schools.

She says: “The joy of any responsible government is to discover that majority of its people key into its vision of ensuring that the future of the state is assured through quality education. Education as we all know remains the only key to national development as well as a stable economy. The provision of equitable, qualitative and functional education for self-reliance and socio-economic development remains our goal especially so now that we are transmuting into a mega city status”.

While explaining the reason  why the support of every patriot is needed in restoring quality and purpose to public education, Governor Fashola said that the state population has increased from 17 million in 2006 to close to 25 million in 2009, adding that the attraction of his administration’s  free education policy to migrants have all combined together to make its responsibility for 1,030 primary schools and 605 secondary schools too heavy for government to bear alone.

Fashola said: “On Tuesday August 5, 2008, at the launch of the ‘Support Our  Schools’ initiative, I reminded us of the roles these schools played in our lives, shaping and preparing us for the different roles we now play either as professionals, bureaucrats or plain businessmen who are self-employed or employers of labour in your different stations of life.

I had appealed to you that your support was needed to revitalise our schools such that the children of the indigent members of our population would be able to get decent education and requisite skills to fit into the manpower requirements of the future as it is only by so doing that we would guarantee our own and our children’s peace of mind.”

He continues: “Since the launch, we have had over 100 interventions of various and diverse forms ranging from the donation of a television set and DVD player to the office of one of our principals by a fellowship of the Anglican Church to the donation of N50 million worth of school furniture to our schools by Chief Ade-Ojo, Chairman of Toyota Nigeria.”

The support from the private sector is to complement the on-going efforts of the state government which centre around the achievement of human, institutional and infrastructural reform of its public education system. and, according to Sosan, these collaborative efforts are  already paying off as parents are becoming more interested in sending their children to public schools in the state.

One of the strategies for this transformation is the allocation of funds for construction and rehabilitation of schools. In this regard, the Projects Unit of the state Ministry of Education and the Special Committee on Rehabilitation of Public Schools have renovated over 93 schools, provided toilets in 339 schools, fenced 91 schools’  provided furniture for 31,580 students, 5,060 furniture  for teachers and furniture for 209 principals. Again, the five Government Technical Colleges have also been rehabilitated in line with government’s determination to reposition Technical and Vocatiosl Education and Training (TVET).

Following the resolve of the Fashola-led government to execute the mega city project, it has demonstrated serious determination to revamp and popularise TVET among the populace. This is because scores of  workmen, artisans, technicians and other skilled manpower are needed to carry out the attendant construction works.

As such, many teachers were recruited last month for the technical colleges in its renewed efforts at endearing TVET to both pupils and parents. Steps have also been taken to ensure a successful accreditation of the courses being offered in each of the five colleges.

These steps include standardisation of their courses, improvement of teaching and learning situations through the provision of the required professional development programmes for the staff, stimulation of improved welfare schemes as well as the introduction and standardization of industrial training procedure for the students to ensure uniformity in the colleges. The state Ministry of Education is, in addition, working on the law that would give legal teeth  to the establishment of the Technical and Vocational Board.

Apart from the demands of the evolvement of the state into a mega city status, Sosan disclosed that the special attention being given to TVET is to provide the type of education that will empower the products of the school system with knowledge and skills that will enable them fit conveniently into life after school.

Mention must also be made of the completion of six multi-lingual laboratories, one each in its six educations districts.

In addition, the state government has provided 75 schools with new laboratories while 92 others and the five technical colleges were supplied with science materials.

With interventions from the Education Trust Fund, the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) similarly constructed three classroom blocks with toilets in eight schools, renovated 50 schools, while 12,440 pupils and 360 teachers furniture were supplied to different schools.

It is worthy of note that the state government put in place measures to keep students busy during holidays. It has introduced, in all the education districts a long vacation vocational training programme for students. In the last edition, about 7,000 students participated in the programme where vocations like hairdressing, dress making, ICT appreciation, and wood work among others were taught.

The Schools Based Management Committee (SBMC), recently introduced in all public schools in the state, is to bring the management of schools closer to the people and get them involved in their running.  The SBMC serves as monitors and give ideas for the smooth running of schools.

Some corporate organisations assisted  in the execution of some of  the aforementioned projects. But according to Governor Fashola, intervention windows are still open in the areas of provision of school facilities, enhancement of students’ learning experience, human capacity development for teachers as well as provision of scholarship/grants to students.

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