Impact Of Educational Reforms In Lagos


South African legend, Nelson Mandela, recently described education as the greatest engine of personal development through which the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor while the son of a mineworker can become the head of a mine and a child of a farm-worker can become the president of a great nation. Like the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) has given education the prominent attention it deserves in the scheme of things of his administration.

The focus of the Fashola administration in the educational sector include the rehabilitation and construction of classroom blocks, enhancing pupils’ performance and learning outcomes, human capital development and recruitment, quality assurance and standards and educational planning and management.
Presently, the state has 1,045 schools with 466,201 pupils and 16,351 teachers in its primary education sector, while there are 317 junior secondary schools, 326,171 students and 9,215 teachers in the junior secondary schools. The figure for the junior secondary schools include the 12 established by this administration in developing areas of the state or communities with growing population which hitherto had no such schools. The senior secondary schools consist of 319 schools, 322,242 students and 9,625 teachers.

Construction or rehabilitation of schools is undertaken through the Special Committee on Rehabilitation of Public Schools. In the last two years, the government has been able to provide  toilets in 339 schools, fenced over 91 schools, carried out minor repairs in 273 schools, renovated and rehabilitated 93 schools, completed the construction of 6 multi-lingual laboratories -one each in the six Education Districts, rehabilitated  5 Government Technical Colleges to give vent to the government’s aspiration to reposition Technical Vocational Education (TVE) and provided 30 Model and upgraded schools  with generating sets, mattresses, cooking utensils, etc.

Also, 31,580 students’ furniture, 5,060 teachers’ furniture and 209 principals’ furniture  have so far been supplied to schools in the state while 13,000 damaged but repairable students’ furniture in 151 schools were repaired. Not only this, 10 abandoned school projects were completed while 80 new classroom blocks i.e. 1,941 classrooms were completed  in addition to the construction of 12 no-classroom blocks for new community schools. The development trail of the administration in the sector equally led to the provision of completely new laboratories in 75 schools while 92 others and the 5 Technical Colleges were supplied with science materials. Additionally, in the last one year the Fashola administration had supplied 33 schools with integrated science equipment for Junior Secondary Schools, while a new 2-colour printing machine was acquired for the Education Resource Centre for the production of instructional materials for training teachers in both public and private schools.

The Fashola administration has continued to pay the WAEC examination fees of students in public secondary schools in addition to distributing free text books to pupils and students in public schools. In each session, a pupil/student receives at least five text books in the core subjects such as Mathematics, English Language, Biology, Economics and Computer Studies, to enhance their performance in their studies. This has impacted on enrolment in Lagos schools.

The launching of the ‘Support Our Schools’ Initiative is also a key government’s policy that has impacted positively on the sector. Government resorted to this initiative in view of the enormous fund needed to properly put the schools in shape. Corporate organisations, individuals, religious bodies and NGOs such as Bank PHB, Toyota Motors, Daystar Christian Centre, Green Springs School, Nigeria AGIP Exploration LTD, Chevron Nigeria, Zenith Bank Plc, Mr. Remi Makanjuola, The Guardian Newspapers, Chief Mrs. Sherifat Kola-Daisi, CAP Plc, and Rotary International District 9110 had bought into the vision by adopting schools in different parts of the state.

Another major initiative of the administration to ensure the mental fitness and preparedness of the students is the restoration of uniformed clubs and societies in all public primary and secondary schools with a view to reawakening of values and leadership traits in them as in the days of old. Free uniforms were given to all pupils/students’ members as well as their teachers.

Realising that reading culture is fast dying in the society and indeed among the students, the Fashola government upgraded all the major public libraries across the state. In line with modern trends and with a view to delivering prompt and efficient services, all these libraries are currently being automated. When completed, users will be able to access them on line with the new On-line Public Access Catalogue (OPAC). It should be stated that two of the libraries, Herbert Macaulay and the Old Secretariat are now internet compliant.

The Fashola administration has also continued to give out bursary to deserving students annually. While scholarships are awarded locally and internationally to indigenes with exceptional academic performances, bursaries are given to indigenes in local tertiary institutions. In 2008, 513 students of the state origin in various institutions of higher learning that scored 4.0 aggregate and above were awarded local scholarships to the tune of N143, 819,772. The operations of the sate’s Scholarship Board have been fully automated and all applications for the board’s facilities are applied on line. This has also enabled the board commence e-payment of awards to beneficiaries with the support of one of the new generation banks. This has eliminated the difficulties usually experienced by students in converting cheques to cash in the past.

Mass education has also been taken to greater heights by the Fashola administration. The Agency for Mass Education in the state has continued to, among others, increase awareness on the importance of literacy, among the citizens, provide functional literacy education, functional and remedial education for school dropouts .With the support of UNDP and UNICEF, the Agency has 1,084 centres across the state and has so far graduated 47,226 from its Adult Literacy Programme. Some of them are also attending the NTI Distance Learning Programme in order to become teachers. The Programme has also gained grounds, especially in Mechanic Villages in the state.

As a way of bringing the management of schools closer to the people and involve them in their management, government has introduced Schools-Based Management Committee (SBMCS) for all public schools. The SBMCS serve as monitors as well as give ideas for the smooth running of schools and possibly draw assistance in areas of need. Equally, the management of information on students will soon be accessible to the public with the Lagos State Educational Management Systems (LASGEMS) that will soon be commissioned. The system, when operational will have the overall data of all students in both public and private schools in the state which can be accessed on-line for. Each student is assigned a unique Student Personal Identification Number (SPIN) and issued an ID card.

The world is now a global village and learning and communicating in other languages is now in vogue.  Government has therefore taken positive steps to ensure that all students and even adults who are interested would benefit from learning foreign languages. To this end, government has built and equipped six multi-lingual laboratories in each of the six educational districts for the teaching and learning of foreign languages such as French, Arabic and Mandarin.

In order to boost the morale of teachers in the state, government has put in place several welfare packages. Recently, principals in the state public schools were presented with brand new Kia Optima cars.
The initiatives of the administration have gradually been impacting positively on the sector. For one, the volume of jobs given out in the education sector of the state for the renovation and construction of classroom blocks, provision of teachers’ and pupils’ furniture created several job opportunities.  Also, the gradual but steady construction, provision and rehabilitation of schools and other educational infrastructure is gradually but steadily restoring confidence in public schools as shown in the higher enrolment figures in these schools either through transfers or new admissions into them. This increase is also noticed through higher cost of conducting the Unified Test/Examinations in public schools. Equally, through the reports of the Policy, Planning, Research and Statistics Unit in the Education Districts and SUBEB, steady improvement in pupils’ performance at examinations has been noticed.

•Ogunbiyi & Ogunmosunle are of the Features Unit, Ministry of Information & Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja.

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