15th June, 2011
Lagos State government has commenced series of seminars to enlighten teachers of primary and secondary schools in the state on the need to teach students traffic signals to prevent accidents. The programme, the Lagos State School Traffic Safety Advocacy Programme, LASTSAP started in 2009 and has contributed in no small way to educate school children and teachers on traffic safety
Over the years, several school children in Lagos State , South West Nigeria have been knocked down by vehicles while trying to cross the road during school hours. With the traffic gridlock and impatience by drivers on Lagos roads, children have become vulnerable. Added to this is the fact that many of the roads are not equipped with road signals to enhance the safety of pupils.
This gave birth to the Lagos State School Traffic Safety Advocacy Programme, LASTSAP in February 2009. The programme was codenamed: Be Road Friendly, BRF. This initiative was aimed at protecting the future of school children and ensuring that they learn road signals when they are still very young.
The LASTSAP initiative has four key components-Traffic Safety Clubs, Safety Traffic Area Round Schools , School Drivers Safety Training and Annual Road Safety Awareness Programme.
The Traffic Safety Clubs in all schools in Lagos State are 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 will go back home to teach their parents to obey traffic laws and signals to curb traffic menace in the Lagos metropolis.
These Traffic Safety Clubs in schools are being piloted by teachers. The need to train teachers on traffic safety so that they can impact on the children becomes paramount.
This led to an in-house capacity building programme for teachers on traffic safety. The five-day training was tagged: Capacity Building for Safety Mentors and was held in five education districts in Lagos . It kicked off on 13 June and will end on 17 June, 2011.
At the Education District III headquarters on Awolowo Way, Ikoyi, 60 teachers, 20 each from primary, junior secondary and senior secondary schools in the state took part in the training programme, held last week.
Dr. Mariam Masha, Senior Special Assistant (Transport Education) to the Governor of Lagos State disclosed that the Traffic Safety Lab was one of the four key components of the Lagos State School Traffic Safety Advocacy Programme approved as a pilot project in 70 primary and secondary schools in the state.
â€œThe 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 age children. Consequently, it performs the function of complementing what is being taught in the traffic safety clubs.
â€œIn order to achieve the above goal and further enhance the knowledge of the monitoring officers of the programme- the teachers and officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, there is need for an in-house capacity building for them. These traffic safety mentors will ensure that the children learn the basic concepts of traffic safety education in a relaxed yet educational environment.
â€œThis training includes two representatives each from 60 primary, Junior and Senior Secondary schools, one representative each from the six education district offices and one representative each from the 20 Local Government Education Authorities,â€ she stated.
During the training, the teachers were educated on basic techniques of teaching traffic safety, road awareness, such as child safety and road safety; pedestrian safety, with subheads on walkways, pedestrian bridges, cycling.
Other areas of training included introduction to the road user friendly games, crashes on the road, prevention, the green cross code and traffic laws and enforcement.
The training was carried out by senior officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA and facilitated by the Deputy Co-ordinator, LASTSAP Technical Team, Mr. Shina Loremikan.
According to Loremikan, 300 teachers in five education districts would be trained under the scheme. He said the aim was to increase and enhance the capacity of teachers in equipping the youths with traffic safety tips since the teachers were in charge of mentoring the children during club activities in schools.
He disclosed that LASTMA officials were also trained on traffic safety so that they could learn new techniques in traffic management. He explained that during the long vacation, some school children would be trained on the same topic.
Loremikan also identified resistance by members of the public not willing to change from the old ways of doing things as the greatest challenge faced in the bid to ensure traffic safety in the state.
He said the state governor, Babatunde Fashola, was very keen in ensuring that traffic nuisance was curbed in the Lagos metropolis and was looking up to the youths to be at the vanguard of championing the change in the nearest future.
â€œThe governor demonstrated this by formally launching the LASTSAP on 29 February, 2009. Under this programme, we also advocated for drivers to go to the stateâ€™s driving schools to get certified. There is a law backing this up in Lagos State. It is an offence if you donâ€™t go for such training,â€ he said.
Loremikan revealed that under the LASTSAP scheme, six children who emerged the overall best on traffic safety competitions would be sent to London to learn more on how traffic is managed in the advanced countries.
â€œ18 students are currently slugging it out to be part of the six to go for the trip, which is going to be the third in the series.
â€œThe business of equipping the children on traffic safety cannot be done by government alone. We need you, the teachers, to help us since you are the mentors of these children. We have gone to several schools to promote traffic safety. We have the challenge to make this visitation a daily affair instead of the weekly thing we are doing, but we will need the teachers in this area,â€ he stated.
Deputy Director, Education District III, Mrs. Esohe Agbonlahor said the training had really impacted on the teachers who would now go back to their schools to impact on the pupils and students
â€œIt is now the duty of the teachers to go back to their school and teach the students the safety tips needed to avoid accidents and obey traffic laws in order to reduce accidents on our roads. These children donâ€™t know these signs but when you teach them, they can also impact on their parents,â€ she stated.
A teacher from Boys Junior Academy, Lagos Island , Mr. Femi Ajayi said he gained a lot from the programme, saying that he can now impact same on students and teachers in his school.
He advised that the training programme should be taken to the grassroots so that market men and women can be taught traffic safety.