By Rotimi Lawrence Oyekanmi
January 27, 2016
A significant improvement is about to take place in Lagos state public schools, with the planned delivery of several pieces of furniture worth N526 million within the next two months.
It is also certain that the recruitment of additional 1,300 qualified teachers for the state’s primary schools, which began last year, would be pursued to its logical conclusion soon.
Besides, the state government has now banned parties and all type of social functions in its public schools, in an apparent move to protect infrastructure and the learning environment.
Deputy Governor of the state, Dr Idiat Oluranti Adebule, who also doubles as the Commissioner for Education, made these revelations on Tuesday at a briefing where she also unveiled the state’s Education Sector Roadmap for 2016.
Flanked by the state’s Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Steve Ayorinde and the Special Adviser on Education, Mr. Obafela Bank-Olemoh, Adebule also announced the domestication of the school feeding project, aimed at increasing enrolment, encouraging regular attendance at the elementary level and creating employment opportunities for food vendors, caterers and operators in the agricultural sector.
Plans are also afoot to construct new state-of-the-art Ibile schools, each of which would house an Art room, administration and counseling office, restrooms, science facilities and laboratories; a kitchen, 15 to 18 units of academic classrooms, Library/Media centre, courtyards, a lobby and health facilities.
The state government will also provide the Ibile tablet, its own version of an electronic learning device, intended to aid learning in and outside the classroom, through access to mobile technology for students.
In addition, every primary and secondary school student will be assigned the Lagos State Student Personal Identification Number (LASPIN), to enable the state government keep tabs on its entire student population and aid planning.
In fulfillment of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s electoral pledge to take governance back to the grassroots, a quarterly meeting between the executive members of Parent/Teacher Associations of schools in the state’s six education districts and top government officials would be put in place.
Plans are also underway to build a new digital library and upgrade public and secondary school libraries.
The state government plans to undertake deliberate efforts to improve on the poor pass rate (currently 37%) among students in the certificate examinations being conducted by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) and the National Examinations Council (NECO).
Although, Adebule said 17% of this year’s budget was devoted to the education sector, continued partnership with the private sector is considered “vital.” She averred that through Amabode’s effort, the Eko project, a partnership between the state government and the World Bank to promote secondary schools’ effectiveness and which began in 2009, has been extended by another six months.
On the poor quality of education prevalent in some low cadre private schools in the state, Adebule assured that private school owners would henceforth be required to strictly abide by existing regulatory measures and additional ones being put in place, to ensure that the quality of the state’s education sector is not compromised.
“It will not be business as usual with all private schools in the state, “Adebule said. “A meeting will soon be held in my office with private school operators to discuss all issues.”
The Deputy Governor also assured that technical and vocational schools would continue to receive adequate attention in the scheme of things.
On the sustainability of the Ibile tablet, in terms of replacement and repairs, Adebule said the Samsung Academy in the state would be involved in the implementation process. She also affirmed that only qualified teachers would be recruited for the primary schools, while those who did not study education may be considered for the secondary level.
On where the new Ibile schools would be constructed, following concerns that rural areas were neglected in the distribution of previous similar projects, Adebule assured that the location of each Ibile school, this time, would be objectively determined by critical needs.
On Lagos State University
The Deputy Governor also asserted that lawlessness of any nature would no longer be tolerated at the Lagos State University (LASU). “Things must change in LASU,” was her response when asked to explain how the state government intends to stop incessant crises at the institution.
According to her, part of the reform process was the recent amendment of the LASU Law, which now stipulates a single term for vice chancellor. “We realized that there’s always a problem when a vice chancellor seeks a second term,” she explained.
She said the new vice chancellor, Prof Olanrewaju Fagbohun has been charged to ensure the smooth running of the university. Everybody in LASU, she assured, now knows that there’s a new dawn and that “things cannot go on the same way as before.”
Crisis had erupted as convocation ceremonies got underway last March, when the staff unions pelted the former Vice Chancellor, Prof. Dapo Obafunwa and other principal officers with water sachets, and chased them out of campus. They thereafter barricaded the administrative building housing the offices of the principal officers and the Senate Chambers, lacing the entry points with fetish objects that remained in place for several months.
The unions’ expressed grievances included the continued delay in the payment of their salary arrears, promotion of staff which had been stalled by the “No Vacancy, No Promotion” policy and other sundry issues.
But it was also common knowledge that the decision by the university authority to correct the anomalies noticed in the award of PhDs, in which the chairman of the University’s branch of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Dr Kunle Idris was caught up; the audit of staff members’ West African Examinations Council (WAEC) certificates; and the investigation of those involved in examination fraud, in which suspected high profile figures were implicated, were some of the underlying reasons for the gang – up against Obafunwa.