Fashola Launches Free Text Books For State’s Public Schools
Oct 8, 2008 - Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), Wednesday launched the first phase of Free Text Books for the State’s public schools with a promise that his administration would make public schools in the State a destination point for both students and teachers in the State.
The occasion, which took place simultaneously in the six education districts of the State saw the launch of a total of 5,925,000 text books consisting of 1,778,000 books for primary schools, 2,804,000 books for Junior Secondary Schools and 1,343,000 books for Senior Secondary Schools in the State.
In a keynote address at the Government Technical College, Agidingbi venue of the occasion, Governor Fashola also promised all the children in the State’s public schools that as long as he remained the Governor of the State, he would provide for them as much education opportunities as he provides for his own children.
The Governor told the children: “I have children of my own and I do not believe that they are entitled to anything better than you are entitled to. As long as I remain the Governor of Lagos State, I will give you as much as I give my own children”.
“Some people have argued that it is only when public officers are compelled to bring their children into public schools that we can make education qualitative. With due respect, I disagree with these people”, the Governor said adding that no one could be compelled to go to any particular school or hospital or take any mode of transportation as the nation’s Constitution provided for freedom of choice.
Tracing the history of free education in the State to January 17, 1955 when the policy was introduced in the Old Western Region, Governor Fashola declared, “what we are doing today is to demonstrate that even if all public officers do not send their children to public schools, these children are our responsibility and we will cater for them”.
According to him, “The responsibility of government is to provide public schools, but no government, no matter how well intentioned can provide all that the people needs whether in Education, Transportation or Health”, adding that this had necessitated the need for a balance in public and private sector partnership in order to serve the people well.
“We recognize our responsibility under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and we have taken that responsibility by saying that we will make our public schools a destination point for not only students but also teachers”, the Governor declared adding that this was being demonstrated in schools across the State where classrooms and Staff rooms were being made more attractive with provision of chairs and desks as well as ceiling fans and electricity provided by private generators while modern toilets were also provided for the students.
He said along side the fulfillment of the promise of free education in the state, his administration was also fulfilling another promise he made to Lagosians that all its policies would be used as opportunity to open up the economy of the State, adding that the agreement between the State Government and some publishing companies has provided jobs and entrepreneurship opportunities for Lagosians who were ready to work while also guaranteeing food on the tables of the workers.
The Governor commended the various publishing companies, Longmans Publishing Limited, University Press, Macmillan, Evans Turner and Spectrum Publishing as well as African Press for keeping to their promise of delivering the books on time adding, “What we have done and accomplished together is that we have provided jobs in these publishing companies. Many of them have been on the verge of collapse. By this agreement, we have brought these publishing companies alive again”.
Promising “to continue to scale up this exercise and do more”, the Governor declared “Our commitment to education is in the realization that the future of the nation lies with these children. When we get old, when we get weak, when we are no longer able to support ourselves, they will be there for us. If we do not provide for them now they may be unable to provide for us”.
“I think that every nation that truly wants to be great must invest in Education. All great nations of the world have been transformed not by resources, in terms of mineral resources, but by intellect of the human resource”, the Governor argued, pointing out that resources remain useless to people without knowledge of how to put them in the path of progress and development.
The Governor called on the other states of the Federation to embrace the free education initiative of Lagos State adding, “With Education, we can stop being a nation of potentials and become a nation of achievers. This is the way to start the development of our country”.
Reiterating his call on Lagosians to pay their tax willingly, the Governor declared, “Those books are not free. They are bought with tax-payers money for children of tax-payers for the benefit of tax-payers in Lagos State”.
In her goodwill message on behalf of parents and guardians in the state, Alhajia Atinuke Idris thanked Governor Fashola saying history would record him as one Governor of Lagos State who fulfilled the yearnings of parents in the State.
She prayed that God would continue to guide and direct the Governor and his administration to remain on the side of the people by providing people oriented programmes.
Also in a goodwill message on behalf of public school pupils in the State, the one time one-day Governor of the State, Master Daniel Osunbor commended Governor Fashola for his administration’s commitment to raising the quality of education in public schools adding that this commitment has helped in no small measure in making him what he is today.
Earlier in her welcome address, the Deputy Governor of the State, Princess Sarah Adebisi Sosan, said the initiative was informed by the administration’s discovery that many pupils in the State’s public schools did not have recommended textbooks in the core subjects of English, Mathematics and the Sciences, a situation which she said was confirmed by a recent World Bank study adding that the situation gave rise to some parents either withdrawing their children from schools or not bothering to register them at all.
Describing the initiative as a cardinal project of Governor Fashola, the Deputy Governor who was represented at the occasion by Tutor-General and Permanent Secretary Education District VI Alhaja T. M. Akinwande, declared, “the Babatunde Fashola administration believes that education is the key to overcoming the challenges of under-development and liberating millions of our people from poverty” adding that the measure would certainly boost the efforts of the State Government at meeting the 2015 target for ensuring education for all set by 180 countries under the auspices of UNESCO in year 2000.
Also present at the occasion were the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu 1, Honourable Abike Dabiri-Erewa of the House of Representatives, some members of the State Executive Council, members of the body of permanent secretaries, the Olu of Ikeja, chieftains of the Action Congress, Senator Sikiru Shitta-Bay, Chief Molade Okoya-Thomas, among many other dignitaries, traditional rulers and government officials.
The Governor also inspected the store of the School with other dignitaries in attendance to inspect books already delivered for distribution.