By Olasunkanmi Akoni & Monsur Olowoopejo
Children, according to a data of the United Nations, are the most vulnerable to road accidents. It was against this backdrop that the Lagos State Government says it has initiated several programmes to safeguard children, who constitute a significant number of its 18 million population, from avoidable mishaps.
One of such initiatives was the creation of Lagos State School Traffic Safety Advocacy Programme, LASTSAP, in February 2009. Code named, Be Road Friendly, BRF, it was aimed at protecting the future and ensuring sustainable development by catching them young.
The LASTSAP initiative is said to have four key components: Traffic Safety Clubs, Safety Traffic Area Round Schools, School Drivers Safety Training and Annual Road Safety Awareness Programme.
One of the key components is the formation of Traffic Safety Clubs in all schools in Lagos State to educate pupils and students on traffic safety signals and laws in the state. It is envisaged that the young ones, after learning such traffic tips in their schools would go back home to teach their parents to obey traffic laws and signals which would help to curb traffic mishaps on Lagos roads.
Given that the Traffic Safety Clubs are being piloted by teachers, it became imperative that the teachers be adequately trained so that they can impact more on the children.
The first phase of this training programme had a projected number of 300 teachers.
Vanguard Metro learnt that the state government will also at the end of the current school session, send both the men of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA, and teachers to a ‘vocational school’ to increase their knowledge on road safety tips.
Speaking at the commencement of the training programme tagged, ‘Capacity Building for Safety Mentors’ held at educational district 111, Ikoyi, Lagos, Deputy Coordinator, LSTSAP, Mr. Shina Loremikan said: “Issue concerning traffic safety is a continuous affair. Research on safety is going on every day and for us in Lagos State, we are trying to ensure that the state is not left behind on safety issues.”
The programme kicked off on June 13 and would ended on June 17, 2011, a five day training session.
Loremikan added that the state government discovered that the campaign would have more positive impact on the pupils and the public when LASTMA and teachers who serve as instructors in the entire 700 clubs are trained regularly on the latest tips on traffic safety.
The safety instructor explained: “Our targets in this programme are the teachers in the primary, junior and senior secondary schools. In each of the seminar that will be organised, we will be training 60 teachers comprising 20 teachers from each of the three categories.
“This is the first workshop for the teachers. The workshop will also be extended to other four educational districts in the state,” he said.
According to him: “Since 2009 when Governor Fashola launched the programme, the greatest challenge faced in the bid to ensure traffic safety in the state was resistance by members of the public who were not willing to change from the old ways of doing things”.
Dr. Mariam Masha, Senior Special Assistant (Transport Education) to the Governor said the Traffic Safety Lab was one of the four key components of the Lagos State School Traffic Safety Advocacy Programme approved to be piloted in 70 primary and secondary schools across Lagos State.
“The project involves the installation of miniature traffic signs and other road safety devices within the school environment to serve as traffic education teaching aids and learning tools for school aged children. Consequently, it serves the function of complementing what is being taught in the traffic safety clubs,” she said.
A teacher from Boys Junior Academy, Lagos Island, Mr. Femi Ajayi when asked on his experience, explained: “I have gained a lot because I now have the ability to impact same on students and other teachers in my school and any other places when required”.
He advised that the same training programme should be taken to the grassroots so that market men and women who were mostly illiterate could learn the tips of traffic safety.