…FG, state in talks over the reopening of schools
..Introduces ‘Read Aloud’ initiative for pupils
By Olasunkanmi Akoni
The Lagos State Government has concluded plans to employ no fewer than 2,000 more teachers in its public primary schools.
Meanwhile, it was gathered that both officials of the Federal and State Governments are presently in consultation to fashion out guidelines and modality for reopening of schools which closure was precipitated by the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic.
Also, the state government, through the Office of Education Quality Assurance has designed an initiative, tagged “Read-Aloud, Lagos”, to create and stimulate the interest of school children in reading books.
On the recruitment plan of teachers, the state’s Commissioner for Education, Folashade Adefisayo disclosed this during an online show, Covinspiration show, moderated by a United Nations (UN) Youth Ambassador, Dayo Isreal, while giving scorecard of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu led administration within the 360 days.
Adefisayo said the move to employ more teachers was aimed at the standard of public primary school education in the state.
She lamented that the pandemic has held the ministry of education back in the completion of its plans for the sector.
According to Adefisayo: “The administration after assumption of office decided to address the challenges in education aggressively in 2020 but the pandemic which country’s index case happened in Lagos has halted various plans for education in the state.”
She stressed that administration went back to the drawing as soon as President Muhammadu Buhari lifted the lockdown earlier imposed on Lagos and other states so as to fast track completion of 2020 plans which includes recruitment of teachers.
Adefisayo said, ‘The most important aspect of learning is the quality of teachers and we did not have enough teachers to actualize the set plan for learning in our public schools.
“And one of the earliest things we requested for and was granted by the governor was the recruitment of teachers.
“We have concluded the recruitment of 1,000 secondary school teachers. And we are currently working on the recruitment of 2,000 teachers for public primary schools.
“And we are looking at employing teachers every quarter because the rate of retirement of teachers is very high in Lagos.
“The administration has granted the ministry permission to replace retired teachers.
“Aside from recruitment, we have sent a lot on the training of current teachers to improve their teaching skills in classrooms. And this COVID-19 period was the time when we were able to do a lot of things in the education sector of Lagos state,” she added.
On the possible reopening of schools soon, Adefisayo explained that governor Sanwo-Olu does not have the authority to unilaterally give directive for the reopening of schools, saying, “Like other sectors already approved by the Federal Government to reopen, the state government is meeting with officials of the Federal Ministry of Education to design guidelines that must be adopted before the schools will be reopened.
“We are watching the behaviour of the pandemic to see what happens next and we are working with the Federal government on the reopening of the schools in the country as soon as possible.
“This is not a decision that any state can unilaterally take on its own. If we are certain that the children are safe, we will reopen the schools for learning to resume.
“We are already working with the Federal Ministry of Education and they are working with National Center for Disease Control (NCDC) on the guidelines that could be adopted when the need arises for the schools to reopen.
“After the protocol is completed and health officials assured us that the coast is clear, we will give the schools some days to adjust their premises in accordance with the guidelines on commencement of academic activities”.
On “Read Aloud Initiative,” the Director-General, Office of Education Quality Assurance, Mrs. Abiola Seriki-Ayeni, who disclosed this in Alausa, Ikeja, explained that the initiative was introduced to encourage all children, within the primary school age bracket in the state to imbibe the culture of reading as well as increase their knowledge and improve their comprehension.
Seriki-Ayeni said, “As an education quality assurance person, I was moved by the conviction that children perform better when they are led in the act of reading by someone else. Therefore, Reading-Aloud is expected to be the most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success”.
She further explained that the programme was initiated to bridge the identified reading gap among school pupils, revealing that “the information available to the Office shows that the time currently allocated to reading, during and after school hours, is inadequate.”