Public Schools: Fashola Calls For Private Sector Collaboration With Govt
Aug 5, 2008 - Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), Tuesday called for collaboration between the public and private sectors in order to revitalize the State’s Public School System.
Fashola, who spoke at the launch of the State Government’s “Support Our School” initiative at the Adeyemi Bero Auditorium, Alausa, said the collaboration was crucial in order that indigent children in the State would have the opportunity to obtain quality education.
The Governor said because of the critical role the primary and secondary education play as the foundational background to the professional and skill acquisition process, the State could not afford to toy with it hence the efforts by the Government to upgrade the institutions.
“Our stories cannot be complete as professionals without the input of these key institutions into our lives”, Fashola said, pointing out that “while the primary laid the rudimentary foundation of our knowledge, intellect and moral character, the secondary school built on that and prepared us for the specialized training received in the tertiary institutions we attended.
Still underscoring the importance of education, Fashola who reiterated that only education could enable one acquire skill which is critical for getting a job, declared “More than ever before, we need skilled manpower to design, build and maintain the roads, bridges and water supply stations as well as other infrastructure”, adding that the continued maintenance of these infrastructure in future lay in giving the children quality education.
“It is through qualitative education at all levels that we can produce the future lawyers, pharmacists, engineers, scientists, administrators, thinkers, writers and other professionals necessary for the continuous development and sustenance of a modern society”, the Governor said.
Areas where such collaboration could be made, the Governor said, include, supporting one of the public primary or secondary schools by providing school facilities like libraries, classrooms, furniture, toilets, laboratories, ICT rooms, sports equipment, school buses and other facilities to these schools.
Other areas, according to Fashola, are sponsoring field trips for students to enhance learning experiences, promotion of human capacity development by training the teachers and school administration, sponsoring awards for and recognition of teachers through special remuneration as well as providing scholarships to students among others.
He pledged that such individuals and corporate bodies that choose to embrace the “Support Our School initiative” would not face any cumbersome bureaucratic procedures pointing out that apart from setting standards, the Ministry of Education would have minimal control over the partner’s project.
“All we have is a desk manned by knowledgeable and friendly staff to serve as liaison between the Ministry and our respective partners”, he said.
Calling for the re-establishment of some of the old practices that attracted and sustained the interest of children and teachers in school such as school bands and well equipped staff rooms among others, the Governor said, ““Our mission is to make our public schools a happy destination for both students and teachers”, adding that this would go along way to stem the rate of school drop-outs in the state.
On what the State Government has done over the years, Fashola, who said the Government has invested huge resources into the rehabilitation, upgrading and expansion of facilities in the public schools, declared, “We have added new classrooms to the public school system in addition to rehabilitating hundreds of dilapidated classrooms, providing desks, benches and teachers” furniture”.
He said apart from providing free education in 1030 primary schools, 313 junior secondary and 303 senior secondary schools in the State and paying all internal and external examination fees for the children in these schools, his administration was also aggressively re-equipping science laboratories, procuring intro-technology equipment and beautifying the school environment.
Urging individuals to assist their alma mater through provision or rehabilitation of facilities in such schools, Fashola thanked former Education Minister, Professor Babatunde Fafunwa for providing furniture and science fixtures for a school named after him. He also thanked Chief Kessington Adebutu, a businessman who, he said, has been building blocks of classrooms in public schools and Mr. Femi Otedola for making a donation of N100 million to another school named after his father, Sir Michael Otedola.
Earlier, in her welcome address, the Deputy Governor, Princess Sarah Adebisi Sosan, described the “Support Our School Initiative” as another bold step by the present administration “to ensure that public schools are reformed to the status they used to be acknowledged for in the past – the level that produced some of us and made us what we are today”.
Recalling that the public schools have made tremendous achievements in the last few years in spite of the infrastructural handicap, Princess Sosan cited Master Henry Akahara, a student of Government College Surulere who won the Commonwealth Parliamentary Debate in the British House of Commons in 2007. Also through its students, the State won the STAN Science Quiz Free Choice and represented the country at the 11th MILSET International Science Fair in Dublin, South Africa, among other achievements.
The Deputy Governor, however, said, “In spite of all these, we know we are not there yet. We also realize that the era of government going it alone is over, and this is why we are humbly requesting you to support our public schools in any area of your choice”.
The ceremony, which had in attendance some notable Nigerian artistes, also witnessed intelligent presentations by some of the students from public schools who commended the efforts of the State Government to upgrade the standard of public schools and articulated their expectations in terms of provision of educational facilities.