Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), Thursday presided over the State’s Support our Schools Initiative expressing satisfaction that the initiative was helping to improve the standard of education in the State.
Delivering a keynote address at the Corporate Social Responsibility Award/ Breakfast Meeting of the Initiative, Governor Fashola said from all indications including the result of the 2012 West African Examination Council (WAEC) for the State’s public schools, the State was heading in the right direction in the education sector.
Giving a comparative analysis of the WAEC results from 2007 to 2012, Governor Fashola declared, “I am happy to report to you that the impact is already in effect and if we take the base measurement to decide whether we are doing well or not and whether we are moving in the right direction, I think our schools results in WAEC last year shows that we have moved up from where we were in 2011”.
“When we started this journey in 2007, the WAEC result for that year showed that only seven percent of those who sat for the exam in our schools passed and that pass was measured from those who passed with five credits including Maths and English. In 2008, the pass rate was 11 percent. In 2009 it was 18 percent, in 2010, it was 20 percent. In 2011, it dipped down to 19 percent but in 2012 it doubled that number to 39 percent”, the Governor said adding, “We are not where we want to be yet, but if we can double our performance again in 2013, we can heave some sigh of relief that things are heading back on course. We have done it before. So I have no fears at all in my mind that we can do it again”.
According to the Governor, who explained that investment in education has a long gestation period, “When you make an investment in education, you don’t see it in almost an entire generation, in 20 to 30 years before it begins to show results. And when the first wrong step is also taken, you’ll see the result at around the same time. And I believe that if that is a measure of progress, then we are heading in the right direction”.
Other indications that progress is being recorded in the State’s Education sector as a result of the Initiative, the Governor said, include the fact that for the first time in a long time, this year, all graduands of the State University, Ojo, had their certificates ready and signed for each student on graduation day, adding that although delays in issuance of certificates were taken for granted in any society the development shows that the Government has taken control.
Also, according to the Governor, “Back to back for two years, our University graduation is no longer holding under a tent or under a canopy. It is now holding in the school auditorium, purposely built for that”. He explained that from last year, students from the State’s technical and vocational colleges have started to emerge and they have started to receive placements, “because we have involved members of the private sector who need them in developing the curriculum and the training. So many of them are leaving school and walking into jobs”.
Governor Fashola said on the part of Government , it is doing the mich it could to support the students adding that contracts to build their schools, to refurbish their colleges were no longer going to contractors.
“It is the students that are executing the contracts in their schools. And I am very proud to tell you that they demonstrate by the finished work what they can do, and if any of you is around Agidingbi, walk into that school and see what the students themselves have done with their own hands. So impossible is not an option for us. It is possible and we will deliver”, the Governor said.
Encouraging the sponsors to do more, Governor Fashola said, “There is some work that also needs to be done at the primary, junior and senior secondary schools. These interventions are good. It speaks to the sense of the community that recognizes the need to put something back. But perhaps some may know, some may not know, we have over a thousand primary schools. We have 300 plus junior and senior secondary schools making a total of over 660 plus. That is the distance we have to cover”.
He explained that the yearly meeting was a forum to give account of what has been done with the support received during the year adding, “It pleases me every year to be gathered in the morning like this when there is no food, no champagne, no musician that we can still fill this hall year on year is the testament to the level of commitment that we have demonstrated to this cause”
“We gather again therefore this year to significantly to come and render account of what we have received, the support we have taken and for people to understand that their efforts are not only acknowledged but purposefully deployed. And that is why we have chosen, as we have, to show everybody as much as we can gather, big or small what we have received and from whom and also to express our appreciation”, the Governor said.
Governor Fashola said in order to ensure quality education, teachers were receiving continuous training especially during the long vacations when students were away on holidays adding that over 8,000 teachers went on training last year.
“So it is just to share with you what is going on behind the scene so that when the results begin to manifest, I will be long gone by then, you will understand that it is those little things that we did together that produced the results and that there was no magic about it. That it was the people who identified the problem, who decided to work together as a people who went back to the fundamentals of building block by block”, the Governor said.
Giving a background of the initiative, Governor Fashola said it began with his visit to his old school adding, “I tell all of our educational support officers and managers that this not only about those children, it is about us. If we put it in, we will take it out. Whether we like it or not, we are all going to age, and if we don’t bring up the right doctors now, be very sure that we won’t find them when we need them”.
Earlier in her welcome address, the Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Olayinka Oladunjoye, expressed joy that the partnership which, according to her, started five years ago, has grown to become an enduring one adding that the decision to use the initiative as a vehicle to garner public support for the education sector was not misplaced.
Thanking the partners for their support so far, the Commissioner, however, pleaded, “Like a growing child, we need more milk and nutrients to make us have strong bones, we need more of your support and assistance especially in the area of creating more hygienic condition for our school children”.
Major highlights of the event included a Lecture delivered by the representative of the Managing Director of Etisalat , Mrs. Adeola Idowu who is Director, Legal Services of the organization and presentation of awards to supporters of the initiative, a ceremony which was performed by the Governor himself. Awardees include the Iya Oge of Lagos, Mrs. Opral Benson, Sir. Kesington Adebutu, House on the Rock Church, Nestle Nigeria Plc, Access Bank, Julius Berger, Flour Mills, Mountain of Fire and Miracles, Nigerian Bottling Company and MTN Nigerian Communications Ltd, among others.
Also present at the occasion were the Secretary to the State Government, Mrs. Oluranti Adebule, Chairman House Committee on Education, Hon. Alawiye King, school pupils, representatives of corporate bodies and top government functionaries as well as captains of industry and private sector stakeholders.