“Lagos Has Changed For The Better”, Says Education Minister
Mar 16, 2010 - Minister of Education, Dr. Sam Egwu, on Tuesday gave an overview of the state of reforms in Lagos under the leadership of Governor Babatunde Fashola (SAN) declaring that the State has changed for the better.
The Minister, who was in Lagos at the official launch of the Lagos Eko Secondary Education Project, said judging from the state of confusion which prevailed on the streets of the Lagos Metropolis a few years ago, the city has progressed substantially.
He declared, “Each time a visitor arrives this State; I mean passing the street of Lagos then, you saw confusion, but today, you will think that you are now entering one of the cities in the United States or any other beautiful city in Europe”.
Egwu, who expressed happiness that such a transformation is happening in Lagos, further declared, “It gives me joy that those things we think are impossible are now possible. Politics apart, he (Governor Fashola) has shown that the country can still do it. This country can still move to the level all of us can be proud that we are Nigerians”.
He commended Governor Fashola for the giant strides of his administration, especially, in Education adding “I have gone, as a Minister, through many states of the Federation and as a former Governor, I can tell you authoritatively, without mincing words, that actually the Governor of Lagos State is a man to be relied on”.
Describing the Eko Education Project as timely, the Minister declared, “It is a demonstration of the high premium Lagos State Government places on Education. The determination of Lagos State Government to adequately promote and enhance the quality of Education is praise-worthy and commendable. One hopes that other states in the Federation would in due course, emulate the visionary initiative of Lagos State Government in this direction”.
The Minister commended the World Bank which, according to him, has impacted positively on the Education Sector in Nigeria through its various support programmes among which is the Science and Technology Education Post-Basic Project (STEP-B) adding that the importance of Science and Technology in the country cannot be over-emphasized.
Congratulating the Lagos State Government for successfully embarking on the Lagos Eko Secondary Education Project, Dr. Egwu declared, “The Governor of Lagos State, His Excellency, Babatunde Fashola (SAN) and his team deserve immeasurable thanks for their visible commitment to the improvement of education”.
In his address later at the LTV 8 Blue Roof venue of the launch, Governor Fashola said his administration is interested in ensuring the sustenance of the gradual but steady progress and recovery in the standard of education in the State.
Governor Fashola who pledged his administration’s commitment to the continual improvement in the standard of Education in the State, said although there is justifiable public concern about the performance level of the State’s public schools in the last West African Examination Council (WAEC) examinations, the results demonstrate a marked improvement from the previous performances.
According to him, “The truth is that those figures are not absolute; on the contrary, they demonstrate that things are beginning to head in the right directions when they are compared with where we were yesterday”, pointing out that between 2007 and 2009, the percentage of students who obtained five credits including Mathematics and English in the examination increased from 7.58 percent to 18.41 percent.
“We understand that cynics will cling to it as evidence of a smoking gun, but our responsibility is to share the facts with you”, he told the audience adding, “We are not a Government of quick fixes. We measure these signs of recovery in the education sector and remain committed to work hard to improve on it”.
Highlighting some of the steps taken by his administration to ensure qualitative education in the State, Governor Fashola, said when his administration at inception accepted the responsibility of implementing free and qualitative education in the State, it resolved never to let anything stand on its way to realizing this objective. He pointed out that it adopted a methodical approach including the identification of all the critical stakeholders who are the ultimate beneficiaries of the products of a successful education policy.
“We continued with policies of the previous administration of paying examination fees for WAEC and promoting the welfare of teachers through career enhancement opportunities of allowing them to reach the level of Permanent Secretaries in addition to pursuing an aggressive training regime”, the Governor said adding that a few weeks ago the Government concluded a training exercise for 1,570 teachers in the State.
He said because of its recognition of the role the private sector can play in the development of the sector, his administration also continued the policy of the return of schools to Christian and Muslim missions, expressing delight that the policy is yielding encouraging results.
Governor Fashola said the approach also include the introduction of new policies such as the Support-a-School Programme which enabled the administration to widen the opportunities for individuals and corporations to make acknowledged contributions to the sector.
“The Support-a-School Programme is a special purpose vehicle that has enabled individuals, corporations and societies to get involved, adopt schools, adopt classrooms and laboratories, and also spend time in ensuring that they are maintained”, the Governor said.
To ensure that the State’s Education Policy is not derailed, according to Governor Fashola, the administration also reviewed the standards for private schools and encouraged their operators to measure up to those standards adding, “We remain committed to ensuring that our schools compete with acknowledged private schools that are fee-paying by ensuring that public schools remain a destination where students and teachers alike must feel enthusiastic about attending”.
Other programmes already implemented or being implemented to improve the quality of education in public schools, according to the Governor are the provision of free textbooks, revival of Voluntary clubs and Societies like the Boys’ Scout and Red Cross, the schools Debate and Quiz Competitions as well as the continuation of the Spelling Bee Competition initiated by former First Lady, Mrs. Oluremi Tinubu and the Lagos Empowerment And Resource Network initiated by the incumbent First Lady, Mrs. Abimbola Fashola.
Also executed or being executed are the rehabilitation of old schools and construction of new ones across the State as well as the provision of tables, chairs and desks for teachers and students in primary and secondary school in pursuit of the objective of the administration to ensure that no pupil in the State’s school is without a table and chair before the end of the year.
Describing the Lagos Eko Secondary Education Project as a major intervention created by the Government to transform performance of all the 620 public Junior and Senior Secondary Schools and the technical colleges, Governor Fashola said the project is a four year programme developed with the World Bank funding support of $90 million to address Government’s priority for human capital development.
“This fund is to augment what schools currently receive”, the Governor said pointing out that through the project, the State Government will re-energize secondary schools education by providing extra funding of N2million to N3 million directly to each of the secondary and technical schools.
The Governor expressed gratitude to the World Bank for its continued assistance to the State in the improvement of education. He also expressed appreciation to the Deputy Governor, Princess Sarah Sosan and all the Education supervisors for the tremendous work they are doing in upholding the standard of education in the state.