Fashola Hands Over New Classrooms, Says Commitment To Education Development Remains Unwavering
• "We have approved that 800 schools as a pilot phase, to be connected to Lagos State public water supply system", he says
Feb 6, 2014 - Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), Thursday handed over three new blocks of 42 ultra-modern classrooms at Iba Housing Estate Senior Secondary School, Ojo and Alice Ogbara Memorial Junior Secondary School, Sabo Oniba with a pledge that his administration's commitment to the development of education remains unwavering.
The first two blocks of 24 classrooms handed over at Iba Housing Estate Senior Secondary School, Ojo, were constructed by the State Government while the other block of 18 classrooms was donated to the school by Mr. and Mrs. Modupe Folorunsho Alakija.
Addressing the audience consisting of members of the State Executive Council, parents and guardians, teachers, traditional rulers and students as well as other Education stakeholders and top government functionaries, Governor Fashola said, however, that other stakeholders in the sector must also play their roles in order to achieve an all round and quality education for the children.
Such stakeholders, the Governor said, include teachers, parents, traditional rulers and the civil society adding that if all these individuals and groups fulfill their responsibilities adequately, the public schools would turn out products that would be an asset to the State and the nation.
Noting that the population of the State is growing at a fast rate, Governor Fashola, however, assured that the development of education, especially in public schools, was equally progressing adding that the results of the progress were already evident in both the provision of physical infrastructure and in the record of external examination results.
He declared, "As a Government we will not give up. We have signed that we will not give up and as the children become ready for school, new classrooms like the two blocks we have here will continue to spring up across Lagos. We are building new schools, we are repairing old ones and we are maintaining schools", he said.
The Governor explained that the administration has now developed a maintenance programme for all public schools which, according to him, started late last year when it awarded some contracts to fix broken desks and windows and repair leaking roofs in some schools adding that the budget for increasing areas of attention has already been provided for in the 2014 budget.
On the modality of the maintenance programme, Governor Fashola said a form has been designed by Government to be filled by teachers on monthly basis to intimate the Government of broken down facilities that need repairs adding that such forms should be passed to the Tutors General who in turn pass them to the Ministry of Education for necessary action.
Saying that the teachers are now to be held responsible for the maintenance of the schools, the Governor charged them, "The responsibility that you have is to complete the form that we have developed. You will complete it periodically every month and send them to your Tutors-General who will collate them and report to the Ministry of Education who will pass them on to the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure for necessary action".
"If this is done, we can award all your maintenance contracts in June so that when the children are on long vacation contractors can move in and repair all the broken down facilities so that when the children return in September, they will come back to new classrooms and new facilities", the Governor said.
On the role of the other stakeholders, Governor Fashola said while teachers should dedicate themselves to the improvement of the quality of education by continually improving their skills, parents should take interest in the education of their children and wards by attending Parents' Teachers' Association meeting regularly while traditional rulers and the civil society should monitor the children to ensure that no child roams the streets during school hours.
Pointing out that Government could not be everywhere with the best of its efforts, the Governor said while the data from the forms were being awaited his team has gone out on its own and has found out that most schools across the State rely on boreholes for supply of water, adding, "We have approved that 800 schools as a pilot phase, to be connected to Lagos State public water supply system".
Other areas of improvement, the Governor said, include the gradual but steady rise in the percentage of successes in the West African School Certificate Examination in public Schools which he said has improved over the years from 10 to 41 percent and the increase in the enrolment of girls in public schools which he said has equaled or have slightly outstripped that of boys.
Tasking the Tutors-General and their Permanent Secretaries to ensure that this year's result records 60 percent, Governor Fashola gave the commitment that the teachers would continue to be trained and retrained as of right adding, however, that such right goes with responsibility which in the case of the teacher includes giving the best quality education to the children.
Speaking at the Alice Ogbara Memorial Junior Secondary School, Sabo Oniba, Governor Fashola said the only way to rescue the nation's education sector from its present spiral fall in standards was to involve the private sector as major stakeholders pointing out that the nation's education took its foundation from the missions.
Governor Fashola, who said comparing public schools with private sector-run schools like those of the missionaries of the past was like comparing apples with oranges, declared, "It was the Private Sector, especially the missions, the Muslim and the Christian Missions, who led the advancement of education in this country at that time and it is understandable. That was how they came to spread their religion through education because you could not read the Bible or Quran if you did not know how to read and write".
Giving reasons behind his administration's Adopt-A-School Programme which gave rise to the donation of the 18 classrooms by the Alakijas, Governor Fashola said, "Unfortunately, the government has become increasingly involved in the area where clearly the Private Sector has led successfully", adding, "This is the reason for the policy of Adopt-A-School".
"It is to open the door for the missions, for institutions and for individuals other than Christian and Muslim missions to participate in the management and development of education", the Governor said expressing joy that "public-spirited individuals like Mrs. Alakija and her family have seized this window".
He said the administration has also returned a quite a number of schools back to the Christian and Muslim missions that originally owned them adding that while not everyone would be the best in class, hard work and dedication would always produce success. "It is not how many times a person falls that is the matter but how courageously he can get up again and continue that journey that matters", he said.
Advising against using strikes as means of resolving conflicts in the education sector, Governor Fashola declared, "As far as Education is concerned, I know that everybody wants a better life. But the quest for a better life is not a destination but a journey and in that quest, everybody has a role to play".
"I assure you that if we see fewer strikes by teachers, if we see fewer strikes by lecturers, this journey will be easier. Time spent in resolving strikes can be used for more productive purposes from which the needs of those who are striking can be met", he said adding, "Every time there is strike and the system is shut down, nobody really gains".
The Governor thanked the Alakija Family for the donation of the classrooms urging other public spirited individuals and organizations to join hands with the Government to promote educational development in the State and the country.
In her remarks at the handover of the 18 ultra-modern classrooms, Mrs. Alakija commended the Governor for his determined efforts to improve the standard of education in the State pointing out that the Adopt-A-School initiative of the Government was a well intentioned one that was capable of achieving great success.
Mrs. Alakija, who was at the ceremony with her husband and siblings, said classrooms represent the first phase of the facilities they plan for the school adding that they plan to install a modern laboratory and a school hall.
Earlier in her opening remarks at the two ceremonies, Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Olayinka Oladunjoye, tasked the beneficiary schools and communities to take ownership of the facilities. She particularly thanked the Alakijas for their immense contribution to education development in the State.
Also present at the occasions were the Deputy Governor, Hon. Mrs. Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, First Lady, Mrs. Abimbola Emmanuella Fashola, Secretary to the State Government, Dr. (Mrs.) Oluranti Adebule, Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Lateef Ibirogba and his Commerce and Industry, Special Duties and Physical and Urban Development counterparts, Mrs. Sola Oworu, Dr. Wale Ahmed and TPL. Toyin Ayinde, traditional rulers, Tutors-General and Permanent Secretaries, other education stakeholders and top government functionaries.