BY GEORGE OKOJIE, Lagos
For ages, the Nigeria education system has been one area of great concern to many in the country. Despite the fact that huge funds have been expended over the years to put the sector on sound footing, it can be inferred that the system is yet to attain the desired results.
Watchers in the nation’s education sector have always blamed the leaders for the downward trend of the sector, as it continues to remain in shambles.
To this end, the confidence in public educational systems across the country has declined significantly for the past few decades with parents preferring to enroll their wards in private schools.
But the Lagos State governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu does not think the status quo should continue. He believes that the ultimate key to a successful education system lies in the quality of teachers and other relevant stakeholders saddled with the responsibility of overseeing the sector.
To achieve this, the state’s commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Mr Sam Egube, said a whoppingN146.934 billion had been earmarked for the state’s education sector in the year 2021 budget.
Egube who said education sector is given priority attention in the state said, “As part of our revolution in the education sector, we have achieved the followings in the course of the year 2020 constant training of our teachers with the aid of technology; Continuous renovation and construction of schools, and the expansion of our skills acquisition centres.
”Launching of the EKO EXCEL Programme to improve learning outcomes in our children; deployment of the 9000 devices to our schools, to aid the training of 9000 teachers; provision of textbooks and other ancillary teaching aids for over 350,000 students (school digitisation programme); recruitment of 2000-(Primary School Teachers) and 1000-(Secondary School Teachers).
”Construction and rehabilitation of 589 classrooms and 1,568 bed hostels in our secondary and primary schools; provision furniture for about 220,000 students; renovation of 20 libraries and information technology centres across the state; trained over 100,000 students in coding through CODE Lagos: a programme that covers 656 public and private schools in the state.
”Approval of E-learning infrastructure for state-owned tertiary institutions- to mitigate the effect of the pandemic on our students’ access to education (1st State to achieve this in the country); disbursed bursary and scholarship awards to 8,246 and 845 beneficiaries respectively; and establishment of additional 21 number of adult literacy centres 2 nos -vocational Centres.’’
To show how serious his administration is about the state’s education sector, Governor Babajide Sanwo-olu has been carrying out reforms in the sector in line with his THEME agenda in which education is an integral part presented handsome rewards to teachers adjudged to have made quality impacts in the state’s teaching service.
In the package to show teacher’s rewards are no longer in heaven or thankless job, thirteen teachers and school administrators got a brand new car each from the Governor at the Year 2020 Teachers’ Merit Award organised by the Ministry of Education.
The awardees were part of the finalists nominated for the grand prize by the Screening Committee led by the chairperson of Association of Private Educators in Nigeria, Mrs. Lai Koiki.
The merit award is an initiative of the Sanwo-Olu administration to reward teachers’ commitment and excellent service to boost delivery of quality education in the state.
Over 3,700 applications were reviewed by the screening committee; 23 teachers and school administrators made it to the final stage. They were abjudged to be passionate, visionary, and adept in modern teaching techniques.
Sanwo-Olu, while presenting the cars to the recipients, said his government was cognizant of the essential role of teachers in building a prosperous society, stressing that the reward would be made regular to inspire hard work and excellence.
The governor said the merit award was institutionalised in fulfillment of his pledge to raise the bar of excellence in education and make teaching service a rewarding profession.
He said: “Today, I celebrate the remarkable teachers who leave no stone unturned in molding lives, building character and preparing our students for a productive future. In Lagos State, teaching is not a thankless job and this annual Teachers’ Merit Award is proof that Lagos will always reward excellent, committed, and diligent teachers.
“We are cognisant of the essential role that teachers play in building a formidable society, which is why we are committed to rewarding exceptional teachers on a regular basis. This is one of the key strategies for the actualisation of the education and technology pillar of our development agenda. We cannot thank our teachers enough for the passion they bring to the job and for inculcating in our children the values they require to excel as global citizens.”
Sanwo-Olu said the award was a genuine way to promote merit and encourage healthy competition amongst our teaching staff in Lagos.
He appealed to teachers to continue to uphold the ethics and standards of the profession, urging them not to relent in demonstrating uncommon sense of responsibility in discharging their duties.
The governor said his administration would not waiver in achieving the key goals of its education and technology pillar, pledging to provide holistic education that would enable children to excel and compete with their peers globally.The government’s commitment to capacity building in education, Sanwo-Olu said, is reflected in the periodic recruitment and training of highly qualified teachers, pointing out that the state’s strategic investment in technology and provision of digital devices to support learning in basic schools had begun to yield the desired results in terms of quality teaching.
“We will continue to prioritise investment in education by improving the capacity, competence and welfare of our teachers, bridging the teacher-pupil ratio in our schools, making the education sector more ICT-compliant, exposing our teachers to international best practices as well as ensuring that our schools are conducive for teaching and learning with quality and modern infrastructure,” Sanwo-Olu said.
The state’s commissioner for Education, Mrs Folashade Adefisayo, said the merit award was initiated by the governor to raise the bar of excellence in public teaching service and inspire commitment of teachers.
She said the event was a testimony to the pledge by Sanwo-Olu to reward teachers for their contribution to education, stressing that the gesture had elevated education in the state.
She said, “In line with T.H.E.M.E.S. agenda to deploy education and technology to produce highly resourceful students, teachers must be equipped in 21st century skills to deliver this promise. Teachers’ welfare, training and development remain the focus of this administration.
“The awardees will be showcased and exposed to multiple opportunities in the course of the year. They will be our ambassadors to enhance our vision and showcase the possibilities for delivering quality education and restoring prestige back in teaching. This will encourage young people to consider teaching careers.”
Koiki, director of Green Springs School, applauded the state government for the initiative, stressing that the reward model recognised the importance of education as bedrock of development.
She said members of the screening committee came out of the process enriched and empowered for more collaboration with the public sector.
For the chairman of the state’s chapter of Nigerian Union of Teachers (NUT), Comrade Adedoyin Adeshina, who has served 29 years in the teaching service Lagos education had benefited more under Sanwo-Olu, saying the governor met excellent records, broke the records and set another record with the reward for teaching staff.
Dr. Wilson Barney, who represented private schools, said the gesture would inspire the teachers to spread their wings and deliver quality teaching to the next generation.
Interestingly, recipients of the grand prize of brand new cars were nine primary and secondary school teachers, and three school administrators, while ten other finalists were rewarded with consolation prizes.