On Lagos’ New Lease Of Life For Education By Adesegun Ogundeji

According to famous American scientist, George Washington Carver, ‘education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom’. Really, education is critical to the growth and development of any society. It empowers the individual with necessary knowledge and set of skills to actualize potential and maximize opportunities in life.  It is for this reason that governments across the world devote a good chunk of available resources to the development of the educational sector.

In Nigeria, Lagos is unarguably the State with the highest number of public schools, students and teachers. It has consistently been churning out the highest number of candidates for public examinations in Nigeria since 1967.  As a melting point with a burgeoning population in excess of 20 million, provision of qualitative education in Lagos State has been a daunting task.

The current administration in the state clearly understands that the task of making Lagos State “the model of excellence in the provision of education in Africa” requires meticulous attention. To this end, the sum of 92.4 billion naira, representing 11.37 percent was allocated to the education sector in the State budget for 2017.

Government has directed the policy toward ensuring equal educational opportunity in the State, encourage parents who might otherwise neglect their children’s education to send their children to school and making education affordable for everyone. So, within the halftime of the administration’s tenure, the wheels of what is mutating to be a historic education revolution in Lagos were rolled off with an aggressive rehabilitation of public schools throughout the length and breadth of the state.  Several hundreds of classroom blocks have been built and renovated while thousands of students and teachers furniture supplied to various primary and secondary schools.

In line with the commitment of the present administration to expand access to knowledge for Lagosians, the State’ science laboratories are now better equipped and the enthusiasm of students to be science inclined has become very high with a lot of success recorded. Equally, the state government has completed the renovation and upgrade of public libraries in eighteen secondary schools across the State with top-class facilities. Lagos Digital Library, an online repository of education content, is ready and will as well be launched in February 2017.

The Lagos state government appreciates that as much as physical infrastructure is important, adequate and quality teachers in schools are as important.  Thus, as part of measures to bridge the gap in the teacher/pupil ratio in the state, the government recruited one thousand, three hundred (1,300) teachers for primary schools while another 1000 teachers were recruited for public secondary schools in 2016. Similarly, the government has been paying attention to teachers’ welfare.

Also, since April 2017, Code Lagos centres have been launched in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions (private and public) across the State, as well as in all public libraries and ICT spaces. The ultimate goal is for one million students in the state to have access to the coding system by the year 2019.

Cheeringly, the dividend of the state’s investment in education is paying off. For instance, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode was declared the “Teachers Most Friendly Governor” by the Nigeria Union of Teachers during the celebration of the last World Teachers’ Day in Abuja. The same day, President Muhammadu Buhari rewarded the hard work, high performance and high productivity of three Lagos State School teachers and administrator with the “President’s Teachers and Schools Excellence Award”. Nominees of the State clinched three out of the nine categories of award available to contestants from 36 States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

The awardees, Mrs. Lufadeju Dolapo Olufunke received the Best School Award on behalf of Ojodu Junior Grammar School, Ikeja. The “Best School Administrator Award” (Senior Secondary School category) went to Mrs. Oluderu Bilikisu Oluwaseyi of Magbon Alade Senior Grammar School while Mrs. Adelegan Moronike Sarat of Civil Service Junior Model College, Igbogbo was selected as the First Runner up, Best Administrator of the Year 2017.

Earlier, five students of Lagos State public secondary schools had excelled at the Y2017 National Robot Olympiad and qualified to represent Nigeria at the World Robot Olympiad to be held in Costa Rica. It is worthy of note that Lagos State has been representing Nigeria in this competition since 2015.

On September 22nd, 2017, Oluwasegun Durojaiye of Lagos State Model College, Igbokuta qualified to represent the South-West Zone at the National Finals of the NNPC Science Quiz Competition and Atabo Ufedejo of Model College, Kankon emerged one of the best students at the national finals of the 2017 Oluwole Awokoya Chemistry Competition held in Kaduna from 17th to 22nd September, 2017.

Lagos State took the first position in the National Free Choice (Senior) Project presented by the students of Government Technical College, Agidingbi at the 2017 National Junior Engineers, Technicians and Scientists (JETS) competition in March, 2017. The State won 10 trophies and 10 medals at the event and 7 of the trophies won went to State public schools students.

Also, Seven Students/Teachers from the State Public Schools were awarded medals and Certificates at the 2017 edition of National Mathematics and Science Olympiad award ceremony organized by the National Mathematical Centre, Abuja.

The Key Performance Indices of the Education Sector is not limited to competition awards as the State has made tremendous progress in external examinations since Y2015. The result of the States performance at the 2017 WASSCE is put at 66% pass in at least 5 subjects including English and Mathematics, compared to the 50.41% in 2016, 37.27% in 2015 and 21.22% in 2014.

The question that comes to mind from the above is this: Is there a nexus among these various achievements? The answer, of course, is yes! Teachers’ training and staff welfare have been given priority attention with teachers’ salary being consistently paid regularly on the 23rd day of every month.

It is also on record that all eligible teachers since 2015 to date have been promoted as at when due while 2,320 (Two Thousand Three Hundred And Twenty) Officers were trained between May 2016-17 and much more has been done thereafter.

Car loans were awarded to 425 beneficiaries to the tune of N30, 302, 252.75k, N30 million Housing Loan was approved for 55 (fifty-five) beneficiaries in the teaching service and 4601 pensioners on the payroll of the Teachers Establishment and Pensions Office were paid regularly.

To further encourage service delivery, Education Merit Award is organized annually in honour of outstanding performers in the various categories of Award in the Education Sector of Lagos State. More than 100 Education Merit Awards are given out with the Star prize being a brand new car awarded to the Best Teacher in both the Primary-Secondary School Categories.

Apart from improved teachers’ welfare, the state government’s huge investment in education infrastructure contributed immensely to the improved status of education in the State. Fortunately, the state government isn’t resting on its oars as it is poised to do more in the months ahead.

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